By Grant Milner, Sr. Product Manager
Most people don’t dial 9-1-1 and then hang up. Most people don’t realize that a 9-1-1 abandoned call taxes already limited emergency response and communications resources. Most of the time, when someone dials 9-1-1 for help, it is the worst moment of their life and they need immediate emergency assistance.
Yet Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) across the country are plagued by increasing numbers of 9-1-1 call hang-ups. How does that happen? Dropped, abandoned or 9-1-1 calls that must be transferred to another PSAP can occur due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances; additionally, the proliferation of wireless devices increases the likelihood of accidental dials.
In many municipalities, an abandoned call received by a PSAP requires that an officer be dispatched when a required callback is not successful. For each abandoned call dispatched, the call taker is responsible for determining the location of the caller for the responding officer.
Sometimes people simply dial the 9-1-1 digits by mistake. Switchboards often use “9” as their outbound calling number. In some cases, a “9-1+” dialing pattern to make an outside call is required.
9-1-1 misdials don’t just originate from enterprise phone systems, though. Within the U.S. and Canada, area codes never begin with “1” and there is no “9-1-1” area code. However, there are 58 area codes beginning with “9”. Surprised? I was, too! There’s a lot of potential for misdials within those area codes and many of these PSAPs address that issue specifically on their websites.
Another source of abandoned calls is the infamous “pocket dial”. If you’ve ever been the recipient of a call made from a pocket or purse, you can appreciate what goes on in the emergency communications call center when that happens. If you get that call, how long do you stay on the line? How many times do you call out, “Hellooooooo?” before you give up? Do you try to call back? As mentioned, there are specific protocols for these scenarios within the PSAP.
Consider this scenario: if a first responder is dispatched to investigate an abandoned call in a large subdivision without a verified address, they may need to knock on many doors and still may not be sure whom they are trying to locate. If the abandoned call is the result of an actual emergency, the extended response time could mean loss of life or property. If, however, the abandoned call is the result of a misdial, the dispatched officer is possibly unavailable for actual emergency response.
There is a better option. With just the telephone number and (x,y) of an abandoned caller, Power Locate provides relevant supplemental data after an unsuccessful follow-up call. This data allows the PSAP to place additional targeted follow-up calls and potentially pinpoint the location of the caller. Power Locate reduces the amount of time call takers spend following up on abandoned calls and can query other useful information, such as health conditions or means of entry for real emergency situations. There are time-saving efficiencies for first responders, too, that eliminate the need for lengthy on-site searches or unnecessary health checks. With that time saved, the police officer is free to respond to valid critical situations.
West is proud of this offering and excited to introduce you to Power Locate and other helpful “Power Tools for NG9-1-1” at the upcoming 2018 NENA Conference & Expo. But you don’t have to wait. You can learn more about Power Locate here. Or call us at 1.877.262.3775.
When finding the caller IS the emergency, Power Locate is the solution!