Dispatchers need help with 911 hang ups

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Chesterfield County has a dilemma and needs your help.  Too many people are calling 911 and hanging up.  It's most likely an accident but it is costing time, resources and money.

It's happened to all of us.  The phone is in your purse or pocket and you accidentally dial a number and immediately press end. If that number is 911, you've just set off a chain of events that takes up county resources.

Every call that comes into the Chesterfield Emergency Communications Center is taken seriously.  But what happens when there's no one on the other end?  The center gets thousands of abandoned calls each year.  It could be a real emergency or it could be just an accident.

The protocol is the same: Find the caller and find out if there's actually an emergency.

The first step for operators is calling back the number.

"If the caller doesn't answer their phone at that point, we have to keep trying to get a hold of them and potentially send resources out to investigate, which wouldn't be necessary if we knew it wasn't an emergency," explained Director of Emergency Communications Rich Troshak.

If that doesn't work, operators try to get information from carriers because the system won't pinpoint exact cell phone call locations.

"It's very difficult because that's time that's taking them away from incoming calls at that point," Troshak said.

Only callers can save the dispatchers that wasted time.

"If you call 911 by accident to stay on the phone or if you get a call from 911 or the emergency dispatch center that you answer it so that we can have that conversation and verify if there's a problem or not," Troshak pleaded.

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