Pocket-dials and misdials to 9-1-1 are no fun for Toronto police, but they hope their latest humorous PSA videos can make them a thing of the past.
On Monday, they released their latest video in which they jokingly ask, in a game show format, “Is this a butt dial?”
The light-hearted public service announcement is meant to tackle a serious problem in Toronto. Last year, 107,000 pocket-dials and 116,000 misdials were made to the emergency line. In 2011, nearly one in five of all 9-1-1 calls was a pocket-dial and misdial.
“It really ties up resources in case it really was a medical emergency, or a fight, or someone choking,” said Const. Victor Kwong.
Kwong said the PSA has been effective so far. In the first six months of the campaign, launched in January 2012, there were already 10,000 fewer pocket-dials than this time last year.
Operators must assume a call is an emergency until they know otherwise, said Kwong. Operators will try calling the person back, but if there is no call-back number, they have to trace the call or show up in-person, in case it was an emergency.
Toronto police are asking cellphone users to lock their keypads to avoid making the unintentional call. If the person realizes they accidentally dialed 9-1-1, police say not to hang up on them—it’s faster to explain the mistake than to have them trace the call or dispatch officers.
“Pocket dials waste our time,” said Kwong. “Every second spent on a frivolous call can be spent on an urgent call.”