Did your phone call 9-1-1 after emergency alert test? OPP say 'never hang up'

Provincial police are telling cell phone users to stay on the line amid a slew unintended emergency calls to 9-1-1 caused by an apparent 'glitch' with the emergency alert system testing that's underway across Ontario.

A 'glitch' in emergency testing system saw phones ghost calling police

OPP are is telling cell phone users whose phones dial 9-1-1 because of a 'glitch' to stay on the line because it ties up fewer resources to explain to the operator up front, rather than have police call you back. (Shutterstock)

It wasn't the emergency alert on his cell phone that caught Rob Lauvray off guard so much, as what his phone did next. 

"It was flashing red and it was a really loud, irritating type of alarm noise," he said. "I cancelled it and it automatically went to calling 9-1-1." 

We urge people to never hang up if they accidentally dial 9-1-1.- OPP St/Sgt Carolle Dionne

It wasn't what he was expecting.

"Kinda surprised me because I wasn't warned in the news that it would happened, so I just cancelled the call. About a minute later OPP called me and asked if it was an emergency." 

'We urge people to never hang up' 

Lauvray explained to the operator that his phone dialled 9-1-1 all by itself and that he was okay.
Sgt. Carolle Dionne is OPP Provincial Media Co-ordinator. (Sgt. Carolle Dionne/OPP)

"They said they had been getting these calls all morning," he said.

Provincial police couldn't confirm they had been receiving calls all morning, but the OPP's provincial media coordinator St/Sgt Carolle Dionne said the service is aware that some phones are calling 9-1-1 all by themselves after receiving a text message from the new emergency alert system. 

Dionne said it's important for cell phone users to stay on the line in order to explain to police first-hand what happened.

"We urge people to never hang up if they accidentally dial 9-1-1 because it does cause more delay," she said. "It is always best for people to stay on the line and wait for an operator and explain it was an accidental 9-1-1."

Dionne noted that the operator is required by law to trace the number and call back, sometimes twice, in order to make sure the person who called isn't in some form of trouble. 

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca