Police encourage responsible use of 911 service

Wellington County OPP officials would like to remind everyone to be responsible with the use of 911.

Police say accidentally dialing 911, or “pocket dialing” 911 with a cell phone can tie up the emergency lines, which can result in a delayed response for people who are dealing with real emergencies and need immediate assistance from police, fire or medical personnel.

In 2012, Wellington County OPP officers responded to 2,683 non-emergency 911 calls. Police say there have been 191 so far this year, compared to 160 at this time last year.  

Police say the public should dial 911 in a legitimate emergency.

When police, fire, or medical emergencies occur, 911 can help save precious time. The call is answered by a trained emergency call taker who will provide the required assistance. People can also dial 911 from a cellular phone (the call is toll free).

According to police, people should call 911:

– to stop a crime;

– to report a fire;

– to save a life; and

– in any emergency situation whenever police, fire or ambulance assistance is required immediately.

Police say people should not call 911:

– to report a hydro outage;

– to check weather or highway conditions;

– to obtain government information;

– for directory assistance; and

– for information about school closings, road conditions, directions, etc.

Police offer the following alternatives to dialing 911 in non-emergency situations:

-1-888-310-1122, the OPP’s 24-hour toll-free number);

– 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),  Crime Stoppers;

– 1-800-268-4686, the Ministry of Transportation’s road information;

– 4-1-1 for directory assistance; and

– 1-888-310-1133, the OPP’s TDD/TTY telephone service for the deaf.

Pocket dials

 A pocket-dial occurs when a cell phone stored in an insecure fashion in places such as pockets, handbags and backpacks inadvertently place calls while being tossed about.

To prevent a cellular phone from pocket dialling, keep it in a holster that is designed for that specific cellular phone or lock the device’s keypad. Some cell phones allow 911 to be dialled even with a locked keypad, so it is important to read the user manual and find out what other features are available to prevent pocket dials.

The County of Wellington OPP is also reminding the public that if a cell phone does accidentally dial 9-1-1, the wrong thing to do is hang up. When the OPP Provincial Communications Centres (PCC) operators receive 9-1-1 calls that result in the caller hanging up, they are required to make call-backs to ascertain whether the call is legitimate or accidental while also dispatching an officer to attend to confirm the caller’s safety when locations are identifiable. It is therefore important to stay on the line and tell the PCC operator what happened.

The County of Wellington OPP is relying on the public to use the 911 system properly and take these important steps to avoid pocket dials so that 9-1-1 lines can be available to those who need them.