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More Than 80,000 Calls to 9-1-1 Last Year Were Misdials


More than 80,000 misdialed calls were made to the Sedgwick County Emergency Communications 9-1-1 last year. Public Safety Officials have launched a campaign to help educate callers and reduce the number of accidental calls coming into the center.

Nearly 600,000 calls poured into the 9-1-1 call center in downtown Wichita last year. The calls were from people reporting medical emergencies, accidents, fires, and crime. 9-1-1 deputy director Elora Randleas says 1 in 7 of those calls were cell phone misdials. 

It's a lot of resources that we have to use to call those people back and see if they're safe or if they have an emergency, so we are going out this year to talk to the public about how to properly use their cell phone. Not that they don't know how, but they need to know to lock it down, not to give it to their kids to play with, and please don't call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency.

The misdialed phone calls tied up dispatchers unnecessarily for more than 3,300 hours last year. Misdials occur when emergency buttons are accidentally pressed on cell phones, when phones are jostled around in purses or pockets, or when they're not properly locked. They can also occur when batteries are not removed from inactive cell phones which can still dial 9-1-1. Randleas says, "If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know that you are safe and that you misdialed."

When to Call 9-1-1:

  • To report a medical emergency.
  • To report a fire.
  • To report a crime.
  • To report any activity that is harmful to a person, animal or property.
  • To report any suspicious activity that might result in harm to any person, animal or property.

When Not to Call 9-1-1:

  • To report power outages (unless medical equipment depends on power) or for your call to be transferred to the power company.
  • To report downed tree limbs not presenting an immediate threat to life or property.
  • To report loud noises or other nuisances--especially during peak times, such as holidays.
  • To report the use of legal fireworks.
  • To receive driving directions.

Source: Sedgwick County Emergency Communications

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.