By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber along with the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment are still trying to crackdown on 9-1-1 hangups in the area.
M.D. council had an opportunity to discuss potential solutions with an RCMP delegation during their regular meeting on Dec. 12.
One thing the local detachment is noticing with the hangups and false alarm calls is they are coming in from children who are playing with their parents cellphones and accidentally hitting the emergency call button.
“The problem is a lot of people are taking their SIM cards out and handing their phone to their kids. The kids can still play on the phone but they can also hit the emergency call. You have to take the batteries out because with the SIM card you are still hooked up to the servers and you can still hit 9-1-1. The problem with that is, it comes up with a serial number 9-1-1 area code so it’s hard to track down, unless the GPS on the phone is turned on. Sometimes we get a 9-1-1 area code that can be a 2,500 metre radius,” said Cst. Justin Buit of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment.
“Yesterday I was patrolling out by Enchant and there was a 9-1-1 hang up in Barnwell. We came down and it was a kid playing with a deactivated phone.”
This issue has been occurring for the past couple of years and neither side has been able to come up with a permanent solution in that time.
In the RCMP report presented to M.D. council, it shows hang ups are up from last year as 2016 was at 15 while this year they have reported 19.
False alarms meanwhile are exactly the same as they both are reported at six.
The fact the issue has been persistent is a reason for concern for both the M.D. and the RCMP but they hope to get as much information out to the public as possible to sway parents from giving their phone to their children without taking the proper precautions.
“It’s a concern that we’ve had and we’ve spent a considerable amount of time running around trying to find 9-1-1 calls,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. of Taber. “What a lot of people don’t realize is even though you no longer have a contract on your phone, you’ve taken your SIM card out but if you have a battery in that phone the child is still able to hit 9-1-1. I know a lot of them have a single button.”
While this may not seem like a big deal to some, Brewin states when a 9-1-1 call goes out there is considerable work being put in to assist the caller.
“I’m just not sure people realize the resources you have to put into a 9-1-1 call,” said Brewin.
Even though they want to curb the problem as fast as possible, they don’t want parents to discourage their kids from dialing 9-1-1 when the situation calls for it.
“That’s the problem, you don’t want to make them afraid to call it. It’s a little bit of a double edge sword,” said Brewin.
Moving forward the M.D. and RCMP would like to remind parents to be smart when they allow their kids to play with their phone and discuss with them not to hit the emergency dial option that almost all phones have.