Children pranking 911 dispatchers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Children pranking 911 dispatchers, using old iPhones and cell phones

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A 911 dispatcher. A 911 dispatcher.
Bullitt 911 Director Carla Johnson Bullitt 911 Director Carla Johnson

BULLITT CO, KY (WAVE) - Dispatchers believe children playing with inactive cell phones are unintentionally dialing 911.

When dispatchers pick up the line and a faint, young voice is on the other end, they have to decipher if the child is experiencing an emergency or accidentally calling.

The prank calls are delaying response to real emergencies, according to Bullitt County's 911 Director.

Call centers across the metro and state lines are dealing with the same problem.

"It takes the dispatcher away from a true emergency phone call," Bullitt 911 Director Carla Johnson said.

Parents who've upgraded their mobile devices may not know that the Federal Communication Commission made it a law for all out of service cell phones to still have the ability to call 911.

The problem can often be traced to parents after they pass on their old phone to their children as a toy or iPod.

Even if it's not under a service plan, the mobile device will still connect to 911.

Johnson wants parents to remember, "Before you give the cell phone to a child - take out the battery."

She said even if the SIM card is removed and there isn't a service plan covering the mobile device, the decommissioned phone will still connect to 911.

Apple iPhones that are being used as iPods will connect to emergency responders as well. "Even in lock mode, it has the capability as a safety feature to call 911," Johnson said.

Parents are urged to hide the phone icon on inactive iPhones, but the device will still have the capability to connect callers to 911.

Normal cell phone calls show up with a number and general location, but devices without service are missing that valuable information.

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