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Nelson County dispatchers report too many accidental, prank calls

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 19:24:08-05

NELSON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — When you were younger, you were probably taught to call 911 only for emergencies.

It turns out in Nelson County not everyone is remembering that important life lesson. Dispatchers tell LEX 18 these mistakes are happening too often and putting others at risk.

Dispatchers provided LEX 18 with copies of some of the accidental calls.

DISPATCHER: "Nelson County 911, where is your emergency?"
CALLER: "I'm sorry, I accidentally called the emergency thing on my iPhone."
DISPATCHER: "Everything's okay?"
CALLER: "Yes ma'am."

Leaders at the 911 center say there were more than 300 non-emergency calls from October 18th to the morning of November 18th. These include hang-ups and empty lines, where nobody speaks when dispatchers ask about your emergency.

DISPATCHER: "Nelson County 911, where is your emergency?"
CALLER: "Sir, I am so sorry I don't know why, but my cell phone started to call 911."

"That 911 call comes into our center and ties up resources overtimes," said Shawn Gaither, the director of the Nelson County 911 center. "We have kids that call in and they're prank calling us."

He says the problem with these accidental dials, hang-ups, and prank calls is alarming.

"After we get so many, we will send police officers to those addresses, or fire department or EMS, depending on what the person says or what they don't say," Gaither said. "Sometimes the kids aren't saying anything. Sometimes they're calling in to order pizza, ask us how our days are going."

In some cases, the calls are uncalled for.

"We had a call last week that was particularly mean," said Gaither. "The individual on the other end of the phone was cussing out dispatch."

Gaither encourages parents to talk with their children and monitor their phone use. He says oftentimes the accidental calls come from kids who are using old cell phones that their parents give them to play with. Gaither reminds people if the phone is not in service, 911 calls will still go through to the dispatchers.