National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week: Kids and 911

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a time to celebrate, recognize and thank the dispatchers who are there in our worst moments, making sure we receive the help we need.

Nobles County Dispatcher Steph Evers said that since cell phones have been around, kids playing with them and calling 911 has been a big problem.

According to Evers, even if a phone has been deactivated, the emergency function still works, allowing for use of the 911 system. Parents give kids old phones to play with, and the children are calling 911.

"If you're going to give a child an old phone, take the batteries out of it, or just get them a toy phone," Evers recommended.

She said it isn't as common anymore that children call 911 as a prank, but every now and then, a child will call 911 to tattle on a sibling. Most young children don't realize dispatchers can locate them when they call from a landline, and Evers said even a deactivated cell phone can ping with fair accuracy off the closest tower.

"If we get a good location, officers will start knocking on doors," she said.

When children call, the dispatcher tries to find out if mom, dad or a guardian is home. The reason it is such a serious issue, she reiterated, is that all 911 calls are followed up on by officers, which can be a misuse of a valuable resource.

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