1 in 4 calls to Windsor 911 centre are pocket dials, accidents, hangups
Cellphone pocket dials, accidental calls or hangups accounted for nearly one in four calls to 911 in Windsor in 2014.
CBC News has learned more than 90,000 calls to 911 were placed to Windsor's emergency call centre last year and of those, 21,219 were what police call "no voice contact calls," meaning no one was on the other end of the phone.
That's more than 58 calls a day.
Last week alone, Windsor police dispatchers received 12 emergency calls in less than an hour from a two-year-old who was playing with an old cellphone.
In that case, dispatchers finally spoke with the mother and determined the battery was still charged in a cellphone that was no longer registered but was still able to dial 911.
Lori Powers, director of the 911 call centre, says dispatchers and police still need to try and determine if someone really needs help when 911 is called, even from a cellphone.
She said dispatchers have to spend a lot of time trying to track down the person with a cellphone. Dispatchers will call the cellphone back and try to get voice contact.
"If they can't get voice contact, and they think there's a problem going on, they'll plot the latitude and longitude that are supplied at the time of the call to send a police officer to that location," Powers said. "They'll call the wireless carrier to get subscriber information and find out where that person lives, and we'll check out own records database to get any information we can on that person so we can send help out to them."
Powers said it can take up to 20 minutes to locate a person who accidentally placed a 911 call.
"It really does impact a 911 call centre," she said. "If you do make a call to 911 and it is an accident, that's OK. Just stay on the line because we're going to be calling back that number and spending a lot of time on it, unnecessarily.
"It's better to stay on the line and let us know it was an accident."
Powers said a lot of times "no voice contact" calls are accidental so issuing a fine or penalty won't necessarily deter callers.
She said only education about the fact non-registered cellphones can still dial 911 can help solve part of the problem.
There are still calls placed from land lines, too.
CBC News hit the streets to see if anyone would admit to placing an accidental or unnecessary call.
Miranda Hope said her toddler brother called 911 to complain about the TV schedule when she was watching him.
"I was upstairs and he was watching Nickelodeon, and Spongebob was not on. He would not take 'no' for an answer. I would say it's going to be on later, but instead, he called the cops and then they ended up calling back because he hung up," Hope said. "So I answered the phone and explained my situation. They came out anyway. They got a good laugh out of it."