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How 911 is Used & Abused

How 911 is Used & Abused


On a daily basis, it’s safe to say that most of us don’t consider what goes on inside the average emergency call center. We go about our daily lives feeling secure in the knowledge that we always have the 911 safety net in our back pockets.

But in an emergency, it may not be as easy to get in touch with a dispatcher as you might think. As it turns out, a big percentage of 911 calls include misdials, pocket dials, non-emergency calls, and–disappointingly–prank calls. 

The National Emergency Number Association reports that unintentional calls account for anywhere from 25 to 70 percent of all 911 calls in some areas of the United States. And that doesn’t even include non-emergency or prank calls.

Whether intentional or not, the use and abuse of the 911 service doesn’t just create a slim chance of being put on hold during a crisis. It makes for good betting odds. 

If you or a loved one experiences an emergency, the last thing you want is to be placed in the call queue behind someone complaining about the frogs in their backyard croaking too loudly (believe it or not, this was a real 911 call).

Today, we’ll explore how the 911 service is used and abused and what you can do to guarantee you get the help you need in an emergency.

911: Your Personal Concierge & Complaint Line

In San Francisco, 911 dispatchers receive about 3,500 calls a day. According to investigative reporting by a local news agency, 1,400 (about 40%) of those calls don’t involve any real danger, injury, or emergency. That adds up to about 250,000 pointless calls per year.

People all over the country abuse 911 with prank calls or use it as their personal customer service line, calling about everything from loneliness after a breakup to not getting the right amount of chicken nuggets in their fast food order.

Here are just a few examples of calls that dispatchers around the country deal with:

  • “My neighbor’s music is too loud.”
  • “A family of raccoons is running along my back fence.”
  • “I have no internet.”
  • “I’m tired.”
  • “I had a nightmare, and I’m scared.”
  • “I ran out of cheddar cheese for my lasagna.”
  • “The clams I ordered are too small.”
  • “My car got towed, and I’m trying to find out where they took it.”
  • “There are spiders in my apartment.”

Yes. You read those correctly. And keep in mind, these aren’t rare calls that happen once in a blue moon. Dispatchers field these calls all day, every day. 

Ridiculous calls like these clog up the phone lines, waste dispatchers’ time, cost money, and potentially cost people their lives.

While dispatchers are stuck on the phone with a noise complaint, the next caller could be struggling to breathe. And unfortunately, the dispatcher is obligated to stay on the phone to make sure the caller is okay and send help if they request it. 

In some cases, the next caller is placed on hold for up to fifteen minutes before getting through. Needless to say, in an emergency, even five minutes is much too long to wait.

So, how do you make sure you don’t get put on hold when tragedy strikes?

Rescu: Your Direct Line to Safety

The idea for the Rescu app was born out of the limitations of the 911 system. Its revolutionary design allows you to get the help you need fast, without having to worry about prank calls or misdials getting in the way.

With Rescu, you can send for emergency services–fire, medical, or police–with just two taps on your smartphone. No talking required. That means no clogged phone lines, no call queues, and no getting placed on hold. 

When you send for help, the app immediately connects you with a 24/7 UL-Certified Monitoring Center that operates outside of the 911 call-routing system. Using your preset location, dispatchers send whatever services you need right away. And the app instantly notifies all of your emergency contacts.

In a crisis, there’s no time to be placed on hold. With such a huge percentage of 911 calls being accidental, inappropriate, or intentionally disruptive, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the help you need in time. 

With the Rescu app, you bypass the complications that come with 911 dispatch. You get the fastest way to call for help in an emergency. And most importantly, you get peace of mind. 

Download the Rescu app today on the Apple Store or Google Play. Set up is quick and easy, and hassle-free emergency response costs no more than a large coffee every month.

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