San Francisco

Campaign Aims to Reduce Number of Accidental 911 Calls in San Francisco

San Francisco has come up with a new way to try and reduce the number of accidental 911 calls that can delay responses to a real emergency.

The city's 911 dispatch center is busy with an overall call volume that has jumped in recent years, including accidental dials.

"We've seen a huge increase due to cell phones and touch screens," said Rob Smuts with the Department of Emergency Management. The department will soon roll out a public education campaign aimed at reducing  accidental calls.

"We estimate that close to one-third of our 911 calls are accidental calls of all kinds," Smuts said.

Dispatchers still need to verify all calls are not real emergencies. The new campaign urges users to lock cell phones before putting it in your pocket or purse, and to make the right call. In example, dialing 311 to report certain crimes that are not in progress.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin has held hearings on the city's lagging 911 response times and said they are in the process of filling operator positions and addressing issues.

"Our numbers thankfully have been creeping up. We are 83 percent, but we still have another seven points before we hit the national standard of 90 percent of calls being answered within 10 seconds," Peskin said.

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