We get a lot of abandoned 999 calls.
Most of them are children playing with the telephone who seem to have no problem dialling 999 but never seem to reach all the people you’d just love to piss off with spurious silent calls.
Then there are all the calls made from the pockets & handbags of people who don’t seem to have grasped the technique of locking the keypad before putting the phone away. A few years ago all these calls were put through to the police and we had to log them and look into it to make sure it wasn’t someone who had been tied up and gagged & were dialling 999 with their toes, having kicked the phone off the wall. Yes, I have been to one of those calls before.
Then someone realised that these silent 999 calls, along with audible alarms, were a waste of time and effort in 99.999% of all cases so we agreed that BT would only put through calls which genuinely sounded like the police, or another emergency service, might be required. (I’m talking from mobile phones, not residential landlines)
I had one this week. BT sent through a silent 999 call. Apparently, it was the 4th or 5th call they’d received from this mobile within 30 minutes. I got the emergency operator to play the call back to me. It sounded like there was traffic in the background and there was a regular pulsing sound. I thought it might be the sound of a train on the tracks.
I rang it back several times over the next 20 minutes – bearing in mind it’s a mobile so we don’t know who or where the owner is – a lady answered the phone, she sounded somewhat on the mature side.
“Hello, it’s the police here, your phone has rung 999 several times, is everything alright?”
“On no it hasn’t, I’ve only rung once.” I was slightly taken aback as most people say “Oh sorry, it’s my baby”, or, “sorry, it was in my pocket”, or “sorry, my mate’s been mucking about with it, he’s a twat.”
“Well, the BT operator said your phone has rung 999 Ã‚Â about 5 times in 30 minutes.”
“I beg your pardon young man but I rung once, and once only. You can take me to court and I’ll swear on oath that I only rung once. I don’t lie.”
“Er, Ok, but what’s the problem?”
“I had to speak to the paramedics because I fell over in the garden.”
“Oh dear, are you OK?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â have they arrived yet?”
“Oh yes, they were marvellous, they checked me over, calmed me down, such lovely young men.”
“Oh good, are they still there, can I have a word with them?”
“Of course they’re not here, it was 2 months ago!”
“Ah, but your phone dialled 999 this morning, just now, several times.”
“Oh, sorry dear, my phone’s been in my bag I’m just coming back from getting some bread from the shops.”