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E911 Pitfalls: The Misdial
By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor
Misdials happen. When it comes to 911, it actually happens more than you think. Unintentional calls occur when a person or phone inadvertently dials 911, including phantom wireless calls, misdials and hang-up calls. If your phone isn’t properly locked, a toddler can easily dial those three little numbers, or perhaps your bag has decided to call in an emergency. Whatever the case, it happens, and misdialed 911 calls occur through your PBX (News - Alert) and you may not even know it.
According to Mark J. Fletcher, there have been recorded incidents of enterprise PBXs mistakenly calling 911 without user intention, so much that users have had law enforcement officials show up to a building despite no one in the building being able to claim they did it. Often times, it’s not even a person refusing to admit guilt, but rather a rogue fax machine that, strangely, will have a destination number incorrectly programmed so that it actually is the offending misdialer. Not only is it frustrating for the people in the building, it’s especially frustrating for law enforcement to have to figure out who is on the other end of the call.
Common causes of misdials are because of area codes that start with 91 or have a central office code of the same sequence. Of course, when it comes to dialing India, whose country code is 91, the odds of encountering a misdial are rather high. To further confuse you, Nuremberg, Germany has a city code of 911. For a company that might conduct a lot of international business, this could increase their odds of a very unfortunate misdial and a surprise visit from their local police department.
Many PBX systems require users to dial 9 for an outside line, and 1 to place a long distance call. A sensitive keypad can result in an accidental 911 call being placed by a user, and thus the accidental call is made.
So, how does one avoid this costly and embarrassing misdial? Through programming.
Companies like 911 ETC offer an Emergency Gateway (News - Alert) (EGW) with a misdial protection feature to avoid this 911 pitfall. Instead of putting the call through to an actual 911 responder, all calls are redirected to a brief recording that notifies callers they have dialed 911 and are in the process of being connected to emergency services. If the call is, in fact, a mistake, then callers have the time to hang up without incident. If it is an actual emergency, callers will be connected to a PSAP for immediate assistance.
In the end, 911 misdials happen. To prevent this in a PBX environment, make sure your programming is correct and that you’ve tested all avenues to make sure that it does, in fact, work properly.
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Edited by Rich Steeves