May 10, 2012

Near and dear to me

Pocket calls burden 911

Nearly 4 million of those calls were made to the city's emergency call centers in 2010 [...] That's more than one-third of some 11 million emergency calls made in New York [City] each year[.]
They note that each call takes about 19 seconds. That sounds about right; we call these "butt dials", and each one takes a second or two to answer, and then enough time listening to the open line to be confident that there isn't a valid emergency. How long we listen varies, but in the 15-18 second range is about right. That background noise - is that a loud party, or someone screaming for help? The loud banging - are we listening to a construction site, or a shooting?

4 million calls at 20 seconds each. That's north of 22,000 man-hours of time - or eleven full-time positions - just to deal with people who butt-dial 911. NYC dispatchers make around 45-50k before overtime; add in benefits (30% over base salary) and we're talking in the neighborhood of $700,000 a year for this.

What they don't mention is that many of these calls come from the same number, over and over - as the caller's pocket pushes and re-pushes the end/send buttons. After two or three calls, we'll often try to make a callback to let the person know there's a problem and they need to fix it. That doesn't usually work, but we try anyways.

Do us all a favor: if your phone has a keypad lock, USE IT.


Old NFO said...

Yep, butt dialing IS prevelent! I do use the lock function!

Ruth said...

Yup! Used to answer AAA's emergency road service # for the area. The number of butt dialers drove me nuts. I, personally, would usually get 3 or 4 a day. Assuming I was average thats alot of calls. And we weren't expected to stay on the line like 911 is.

I always lock my phone before putting it in my pocket. I hate butt dialers.