Nearly 1/3 of county's 911 calls accidental in 2020

By Herald Staff

The Dubois County 911 Communications Center handles all emergency and non-emergency calls for public safety agencies in Dubois County. In addition, the Jasper Police and Fire Departments also field emergency calls. Annually, dispatchers within the county field more than 12,000 calls.

Even young children know to dial 911 in case of emergency. It is useful and potentially life-saving knowledge for them to have. However, as the number of children having access to new and old cellphones has increased, this has also led to an increase in accidental 911 calls.

Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter wants residents to be aware of this and know what to do in case a call to 911 is placed unintentionally.

"All cellphones that have power will call 911, even if there is no cell service to the phone," Kleinhelter said. "Many people give their old cellphones to their children to play on and those phones will still place 911 calls. Even if a 911 call is placed accidentally, it is important to not hang up. The caller should stay on the line to explain to dispatchers that there is no emergency."

Many times, when an accidental call to 911 is made, the caller will hang up the phone upon realizing the mistake. However, when an accidental caller hangs up, there is no way for law enforcement to call them back to determine if there is an emergency. Dispatchers must assume the call is legitimate until they learn otherwise. That means officers must devote time and resources to tracking down the call, potentially taking time away from true emergencies.

County Dispatch officials estimate more than 30% of calls to the 911 center were accidental in 2020.

"We certainly want citizens to call 911 anytime there is an emergency," Kleinhelter said. We also want citizens to take the extra step to let us know if their call is a false alarm so we can focus our resources on the most pressing emergencies."

If you realize your child has accidentally dialed 911, please call back to let the dispatch center know it was a false alarm. Likewise, if you or someone in your household places an accidental 911 call, do not hang up. Stay on the line to inform dispatchers there is no emergency.

It is also important to know that if you are a victim and you dial 911, you don't have to say anything. If you are in a situation where you need help but will jeopardize your safety by speaking, just keep the line open and law enforcement will be dispatched. Indiana now has the option of texting to 911 as another public safety measure.

For further information, contact the Dubois County Sheriff's Office at 812-482-3522 or theStatewide 911 Board at 812-234-2507 or online at in911.net.




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