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50 percent of wireless calls to 9-1-1 are caused accidently by your butt

Half of the wireless calls to 9-1-1 were the result of butt dialing.
October 16, 2014
Butt Dialing

Recently, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly visited 9-1-1 call centers in New York and Anchorage. While at the centers, O’Rielly learned that about 70 percent of calls to 9-1-1 come from wireless numbers. He also learned that half of those wireless calls were the result of butt dialing.

As Bloomberg notes, this means that as many as 84 million calls were accidentally made to 9-1-1 each year. In some cases, butt dialing can cause significant trouble due to operators only hearing “muffled speech, repeated banging, and mysterious wind-like noises.” Basically, it sounds like someone may be in trouble.

It also causes a strain on call centers who are already short-staffed. But how exactly do you fix this? You can’t possibly make it more difficult to dial 9-1-1. There does not seem to be a simple answer.

Until we get that answer, butt dialing seems to be giving call centers all they can handle.

  • report from the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board found that a single child in Shelby County, Tenn., made 84 calls to 9-1-1 in a single night, rendering the call center useless.
  • Last spring, two men butt-dialed 9-1-1 and then proceeded to locate a car to break into, discuss how to do it, and celebrate when they found drugs.
  • A mother and her son were busted for making meth in their home after “butt-dialing” 9-1-1. Police reports said that the mother and were “talking about making and selling methamphetamine” for a half hour as the 911 operator listened to the whole conversation.
  • A couple were arrested for “butt-dialing” 9-1-1 while eating at a restaurant and then proceeding to tell the police exactly how they were going to “get high” that night.
  • A woman in Winnetka, Illinois called the SWAT team when her husband accidentally butt dialed her and it sounded as if he was struggling in a fight. He was simply in his car driving home from work.