Last updated April 12, 2019
Across the United States, 911 dispatchers are ready to tear their hair out due to a growing problem involving toddlers playing with old cell phones. In Denison, Texas, 911 dispatchers have been answering almost a thousand calls each year from young children. This would not be a problem if the children were making legitimate calls to ask for help, as has sometimes happened, but in these cases, the child is simply playing with an old cell phone.
Non-necessary calls occupy a 911 operator’s time and they could potentially lead to tragedy if a true emergency is not dealt with as quickly as possible. Fire Dispatcher Leisa Gailey, who answers as many as 200 calls each day for the city of Denison, reports that she usually receives several every day that originate with children simply punching random button.
“This is a nightmare for call centers when a child has a phone and he’s just pushing buttons. It’s keeping 911 lines tied up,” explains Gailey.
The issue is particularly acute because old cell phones that are no longer on a service plan can still dial 911, just as long as they have a battery with enough charge. Parents who store an old cell phone in a drawer may not realize that it is not completely inert. One excellent solution to this problem is to make sure that old cell phones are properly recycled once they are no longer in active use.