SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – When you need to make an emergency call, you hope to hear a 911 operator immediately on the other end. But the latest internet prank could hold up the line.
A Facebook post encouraging iPhone users to say the number 108 to Siri is going viral but police departments around the country are not amused.
The number is for emergency services in India, but can be rerouted to local dispatchers as a panic code. It will quickly connect you to emergency services and if it’s not an emergency, that’s a problem.
“Sharon on an afternoon shift answers anywhere from 50 to 80 calls, and it’s very serious that those calls are emergency calls and they’re legitimate,” said Police Chief Gerald Smith.
For Sharon officers, who respond to about 28,000 calls a year, prank calls like this could tie up first responders and prevent them from getting to a real emergency quickly.
According to the National Emergency Number Association, an estimated 240 million calls are made to 911 in the U.S. each year — the majority of which are made from wireless devices.
“You may take an officer from one side of town with a legitimate emergency on the other side of town which could cost minutes redirecting that car back to the real emergency,” Smith said.
As for iPhone users just calling to try it out — don’t.
“We’re required to answer every 911 call that comes in and with 28,000 calls a year, we don’t have time for pranks,” Smith said.
They haven’t heard of any problems with the 911 lines being tied up because of this prank in Mercer County. Since the 911 center dispatches up to 16 police departments and even more fire and EMS, they want to avoid it becoming a problem altogether.