The Lloydminster RCMP would like the public to know that inactive cellphones are still capable of dialling 911. Even if phones are not connected to a plan, they can still dial the number as an emergency feature.
“What we’re recommending, if you’re going to give your phone to a child to play with that you remove the battery beforehand so that this is not a possibility,” said Const. Grant Kirzinger of the Lloydminster RCMP.
“If you have an old smartphone that you’re planning on letting your child use for music or for gaming purposes, we ask that you educate your child about 911 and have them not utilize it unless it’s a true emergency.”
He said if 911 is dialled accidentally that someone should remain on the line and speak with the operator taking the call. This will let them know if the call is a real emergency rather than have them try to pinpoint the location of the cellphone.
These situations occur frequently and tie up a lot of time for the 911 operators. It also creates “shortcomings” in terms of manpower for the emergency service and the police when they try to track down the location of the phone that made the call.
“This is something that we have been dealing with for quite some time. We have had a few instances of days where we have received extremely high quantities of calls like this,” said Kirzinger.
“There was a day where we received over 40 calls of this nature.”
Kirzinger said it’s common for people to give their old cellphones to their children to play with and many people may not realize their phones still have this capability. If it’s a child who accidentally makes the call, adults might not even be aware of it, so it is recommended that the phones are first disconnected from any power sources.