ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Anderson County Emergency Services say about one third of their daily calls are false or inappropriate.
The problem is costing taxpayers money when deputies are sent out to non-emergencies. It’s also making people with real emergencies wait.
Most of the time when dispatchers answer the phone, there’s a real problem. But unfortunately, there’s a rise in calls that aren’t so urgent.
“The average of 10 calls and out of that, six or seven are legitimate calls where the others are pocket dials or inappropriate calls,” said Tyrone Glover, the 911 Center assistant supervisor.
From noon Wednesday to noon Thursday, the Anderson County Call Center received 389 calls. Out of those calls, 89 were false calls.
“If you go out and look at the screen right now, there’s probably three or four [deputies] running to a 911 hang up call to verify if those people are ok,” said Becky Carter, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Communications Director.
She says they’ve been getting more false calls with the rise in smartphones and other smart devices.
“Today, was the first day we had a 911 call from the watch,” Carter said.
A lot of the times, dispatchers will hear background noise. But, they’ve received calls from someone wanting to know if a restraining order cost money to a man wanting the number to MARS Chocolate for an invention idea he had.
Carter says it’s tying up resources for actual emergencies.
“Until we can determine what’s going on on that line, it’s a priority one call,” Carter said.
She says even if people pocket dial 911, they should stay on the line and not hang up because that can raise red flags. If people say they’re ok, deputies still have to go and do a welfare check because the situation could not be what it seems.
Carter says the smart phone has been beneficial one time during a motor vehicle accident where the driver was knocked unconscious. The driver and phone were able to call 911 which led them to triangulate the location of the call.
However, she does want to remind people in what instances 911 should be used.
“911 is mainly for that threat or potential threat to life or property,” Carter said.
Officials do say they don’t want to discourage people from calling 911, even if people aren’t sure if it’s an emergency or not. They just want people to be mindful of pocket dials and non-emergency calls.
The sheriff’s office says you can call 864-260-4444 for non-emergency calls.