MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – Summer is a busy season for Carteret County dispatchers, but lately, the number of accidental 911 phone calls they’re getting is up, way up.
Carteret County’s Emergency Communications Center answered about 1,600 emergency calls this weekend — 306 of those were 911 hang-up calls. It is double the amount they saw this time last year.
Carteret County’s Emergency Communications Director Brandy Osborne is putting out an important message, don’t just hang up on an accidental 911 call.
“We want people to realize if they call 911 and it’s an accident, they’re not in trouble,” said Osborne.
Carteret County policy requires dispatchers to call you back if you dial 911 by mistake.
“We need to talk to them and make sure they’re okay, so that we can clear that call from the screen and not continue to send responders to check on them,” said Osborne.
If you don’t answer, emergency responders will head to the caller’s last known location to assure there is no emergency, whether on land or out at sea.
“As a general rule, there’s no address on the water, so we have to send a boat to that area to look for somebody in distress when they don’t respond back when we call back on a hang-up,” said Osborne.
It can divert emergency personnel like police officers and firefighters from real emergencies.
Osborne blames these hang-up calls to technology. She says just holding down a button your smartwatch too long can call 911.
iPhones also have a similar feature.
If you accidentally call 911, the best thing to do is stay on the line until you speak with a dispatcher, and explain the mistake.
These protocols vary from county to county.