Car cup holders trigger thousands of 911 calls

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Car cup holders trigger thousands of 911 calls

With some iPhones, pressing the cup holder on the side buttons may trigger a call to 911.

Emergency dispatchers in Red Deer are receiving many accidental 911 calls, because very often, phones are placed in cup holders.

In June, 911 dispatchers in central Alberta received 3,500 unintentional calls, non-emergency calls that take up a lot of their valuable time. They hope to reduce that number by asking people to stop getting their device stuck in the car's cup holder.

Andrea McLean, Red Deer Emergency Services Dispatcher , claims that this type of false alarm occurs frequently.

For example, she answers a 911 call and hears a surprised-looking person on the phone and wonders how she dialed the number. Knowingly, Andrea McLean asks him: Was your phone in the cup holder? When the person answers yes, they launch into their explanation.

On an iPhone 8 or newer, an emergency call can be made by holding down both side buttons at the same time. A new screen appears, and shortly after, a countdown begins, and an alert sounds. If nothing happens, a 911 call is initiated.

“Sometimes it's kids playing, sometimes it's #x27;is someone who calls by accident. But, in the vast majority of cases, it is the cup holders that are at fault.

— Andrea McLean, Red Deer Emergency Services Dispatcher

In the month of June, the Red Deer dispatch center received approximately 15,000 calls, including approximately 3,500 unintentional calls. Calgary's 911 meanwhile receives more than 300 accidental calls a day, many of them triggered by a cup holder, according to a written statement from the Alberta Metropolitan Dispatch Service.

We try to inform people one by one, says Andrea McLean.

Red Deer Emergency Services has also launched a media campaign to raise public awareness of this issue.

These calls take much-needed resources away from a team that serves more than 453,000 people in some 70 communities, from Leduc to Airdrie, and up to ;at the borders of British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

If we don't get an answer, we actually have to call the person back manually, says Andrea McLean. If we hear anything suspicious, we have to alert the police because we don't know if the person is safe.

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