"Butt dialing" makes up almost half of all emergency calls

Victoria Taylor

JACKSON, Tenn. -- 911 dispatchers say almost half of their calls are from an accidental dial.

Dispatchers say even if your phone is locked, you can still call 911. At the Jackson Central Dispatch, more than 20 accidental calls flooded wires Friday.

"We've seen it really be on the rise here lately," Kathy Smith said, a shift supervisor at the Jackson Central Dispatch.

Madison County dispatchers say they get up to 70 "butt dials" per 8-hour shift. Which is alarming when every second counts."

When we have to stop and answer that 911 call, to make sure it's not an emergency and it's a pocket dial it could be a crisis," Jennifer Brandon said with Madison County Dispatch.

Jackson dispatchers say a real 911 call averages 3 minutes. the butt dials take them much longer to clear. Those could last for at least 10 minutes.

All phones are programmed to make 911 calls, even when the phone is no longer actively in service. Operators suggest letting the battery die or take it out if the phone is going to be used as a toy.


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