A deluge of people wrongly pocket dialing 911 is tying up the emergency service.
Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office says 20 per cent of all 911 calls are non-emergencies or the dreaded pocket dial.
"It makes it a little more difficult for us to concentrate on one task at a time because we're constantly stopping to answer the 911 calls when they're pocket dials,” 911 dispatcher Michelle Burhoe said Tuesday.
In her 12 years, she’s seen it all. In one case, a student pocket dialed her. Burhoe listened carefully to work out what was happening.
'We had a little boy call because he was terrified of a spider.' - Michelle Burhoe, 911 dispatcher
"I interrupted an exam that was going on. I think the student was mortified. I don't think the teacher was very happy the cell phone was on,” she said.
Another caller found an emergency where many would have found only adorableness.
“We had a 911 call from a man who wasn't sure if he needed medical attention because he was licked by a puppy,” she said.
“We had a little boy call because he was terrified of a spider."
Lock it before you pocket
Const. Pierre Bourdage of Halifax Regional Police said officers were called to 5,295 misdialed 911s in 2013.
If the dispatchers can’t talk to the caller, police must respond.
"A police officer will give you a little warning and sometimes it's a child, or the phone was knocked over. But we do have to check that everyone is safe and no one is in danger,” he said.
Bogus calls can attract a $700 fine. If you do misdial, you should stay on the line to tell them so police aren’t dispatched.
Also, as Burhoe recommends, lock it before you pocket.