Avoid Dialing 911 by Accident
Avoid Dialing 911 by Accident

Cell Phone Feature Causing Surge in Calls to 9-1-1 in Kane County

Kane County Connects Staff 7/17/2023 7:00AM

A software update to cell phones is being blamed for a dramatic uptick in accidental calls to 9-1-1. 

According to KaneComm, Kane County's 9-1-1 Dispatch System, Telecommunicators processed an additional 2,000 phone calls in June 2023 than the same time last year.   After looking at call statistics for both May and June and doing some research, KaneComm determined the spike in calls was primarily from cellphone users who accidentally dialed 9-1-1.

“Typically, accidental calls show up as abandoned (or hang-up) calls, but these accidental calls come in to the center and don't hang up right away," said KaneComm Director Michelle Guthrie.  “They are 9-1-1 calls that come in as an open phone line. Telecommunicators have to remain on the line and determine if the caller has an emergency."

It is believed software and device updates that automatically turn on the Emergency SOS feature on the phone is the reason behind the unintended emergency calls.  Unbeknownst to the user, the feature can be triggered when the cell phone sensors detect certain motions that indicate the user has been involved in a car  crash or fall.  However, the cell phone is also sensing everyday activity, especially activity that may shake the phone, like mowing the lawn.

“These features can be extremely helpful in an emergency but they can also easily cause accidental 9-1-1 calls too," said Guthrie.

The problem: telecommunicators have to follow up on every call to 9-1-1 no matter if it was an accident or hang-up to confirm there is no emergency. That takes away from time and resources needed for real emergencies.

While not encouraging individuals to disable the SOS feature, KaneComm would like people to know about the feature and what it does.

Cellphone users can adjust the preference settings for the "Emergency SOS" feature by following the diagrams at the very bottom of this page for both Android and iPhones.

Along with changing the settings on your cellphone you can also assist 9-1-1 telecommunicators by not hanging up if you accidentally dial 9-1-1.  Just state that you are safe and there's no emergency and the call was accidental. 

KaneComm serves the following agencies and communities:

Kane County Sheriff's Office

Kane County Office of Emergency Management

  • Wayne Police Department
  • Gilberts Police Department
  • Hampshire Police Department
  • Maple Park Police Department
  • Pingree Grove Police Department
  • Campton Hills Police Department
  • Kane County Forest Preserve Police Department
  • Burlington Fire Protection District
  • Hampshire Fire Protection District
  • Maple Park Fire Protection District
  • Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District
  • Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District
  • Big Rock Fire Protection District
  • Kaneville Fire Protection District

    Learn more about KaneComm by CLICKING HERE.​


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