Is 911 Set to Auto Dial on Your Phone?

In 2022, Hamilton Police received more than 22,600 911 calls from unsubscribed devices that could not be dialed back. So far in 2023, our communications team was able to confirm more than 9,200 calls have been a result of unsubscribed devices calling 911. Do you give your children your old devices without a SIM card? Are you aware that without deactivating this feature it will call 911 on an unsubscribed device?

We continue to urge the public not to call 911 unless it is an emergency, and not to let children play with mobile phones or tablets that are capable of activating the SOS/Emergency feature.

"We as a community need to remember that 911 is to be used only when the safety of people or property is at risk and requires immediate assistance such as a fire, a crime in progress, or a medical emergency. Avoiding unintentional dials helps ensure our officers are able to respond to priority calls. We encourage the Hamilton community to be a part of the solution to prevent accidental 911 calls,” stated Superintendent Treena MacSween

Unintentional dials happen when a mobile device is carried in a pocket, purse, backpack, or other piece of clothing accidentally activates the keypad, causing an emergency call. Many calls continue to be from young children when they are given cellphones and smartphones to play with as toys. Even old, inactive devices with the SIM card removed can be used to dial 911 or activate the SOS/Emergency feature on the device. This is often unknown by the owner.

For every unintentional call or pocket dial received, an emergency communicator must determine whether a real emergency exists and if police, fire, or paramedics should be dispatched. With every unintentional call received, precious seconds may be taken away from someone who really needs help.

If you place an unintentional 911 call, it is very important to remain on the line to ensure an emergency operator can confirm it was a pocket dial/unintentional call. Every 911 call is taken seriously. When a 911 caller doesn't respond, that could be a sign of trouble — a possibility an emergency responder can't ignore.

You can prevent unintentional 911 calls by:

• Using the keypad lock feature. Keypad locks, some of which can be programmed to activate automatically, prevent a mobile device from responding to keystrokes until the user unlocks the keypad using a short combination of key presses or password.

• Turning off the 911 autodial feature. Check the user manual or the manufacturer's website or call the service provider to determine whether your device has this feature and how to turn it off.

• Refraining from programming a wireless device to automatically call 911 or including it as a "speed dial" 911 feature.

Some examples or reasons we often see someone fails to remain on the line:

• Over reporting – they feel “too many” have called to report and hang up

• User error by misdialing the number or activating the SOS/Emergency feature – Did you know that if you deactivate this feature to “auto dial” it resets after each system update on your device?

• Wait time on the non-emergency line is “too long” so they hang up and dial 911 for faster service – this Is not the case

• Caller has a change in intention after dialing 911

• Thinking you are in “trouble” should you call or misdial 911

• The caller using it as a “scare tactic” to obtain compliance to those around them

 • Looking for a status update on an existing police report

For non-urgent cases,  callers should use the non-emergency line at 905-546-4925 or visit the website at www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca.