The growing problem of abandoned 911 calls

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Folks at Clinton County Emergency Services are ready to help you in any kind of an emergency, all you have to do is pick up the phone.

You call them when you're in an emergency and sometimes even when you're not.

"We can hear people driving down the road. You can tell they're driving because you can hear the radio," said Craig Scholl of Clinton County dispatch. "They have no idea that they've called 911."

And with newer types of technology, it's becoming more and more common.

"Last year we had just over 3,900 abandoned 911 calls," Scholl said.

Nowadays phones can do just about anything and they're making emergencies a priority.

"Recently was in an accident. My phone, as long as it was connected to my car, dialed 911 and I was talking with 911 right after my airbag deployed," said Sean Brown of Target Tech.

That's why Brown says you should be doing your research.

"Biggest part is just learn anything and everything about the device you have. When you learn what's going on with it, you learn what not to do but also what to do," Brown said.

"The biggest thing is if you accidentally dial 911, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know," Scholl said.

A dispatcher had no idea if that call was an accident or not, which is why they take each call seriously. If you dial 911 and hang up, the dispatcher will call you back immediately. It will show up as a local number.

"Most people will screen their calls, we encourage you to answer it. Just so we can put it to bed, so to speak," Scholl said.

If you don't answer, you might end up wasting 20 minutes of a dispatcher's time as they try to make sure you're safe.

"You're tying up resources. A dispatcher is a resource and if a patrol is needed, too, that's a resource. So if you were to add up the time, what it costs for that dispatcher to process the call, the police officer to follow up-- it costs money, yes, absolutely," Scholl said.

And isn't just adults. With more parents allowing kids to play on their phones, dispatchers see a lot of children dialing 911 by accident. Police suggest letting them play with something else instead.