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05/17/2017

Cell Phones That No longer Work Can Still Call 911

Lately the Cross County Sheriff's Office has had an overwhelming amount of 911 calls from a cell phone that the owners didn't think worked any longer and when researched it was a child.

The problem is that many phones can still call 911 from the home screen until the battery is removed. A child playing with an old phone as a toy can sometimes make those calls.

A little one playing with a cellphone may call 911 over five or six times in a period of a half-hour, What most parents don’t think about is, ‘Take the battery out first.’”

Until dispatchers are certain that a 911 call is a mistake, they have to treat it as legitimate, taking law enforcement’s attention away from other business.

Experts advise parents not to let a child play with an old phone if the battery can’t be removed.

Emergency managers also said it’s important not to hang up if someone does accidentally call 911. Just telling a dispatcher that a call was made by accident can save a lot of people time and trouble.

Recently in another county they had about 617 on a disconnected cell phone, and they would never say anything," reported one of the dispatchers who was swamped with 911 calls. "We tried to keep an open line to see if they would say something or people would try to talk and say, 'if you need something, just call us, or else please stop calling.' "At first, dispatchers were concerned someone really needed help. Using triangulation from cell-phone towers, the calls were traced to a location. All those calls also tied up phone lines and resources for real emergencies.

Dispatchers say it's a good idea to either get rid of old cell phones by donating them or recycling them, or at least taking out the battery.

With summer coming on and more children having old cell phones to play on we wanted to inform the public.  This can be a tool to help someone but at the same time it harm someone who is really in need of an officer or medical attention if they cannot get through to 911.

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