This was a problem a long-time before we all started carrying cell phones.

But it seems like BECAUSE we all have phones handy now, and the way we carry and use them, accidentally dialing has become more of a problem.

And that's certainly becoming a problem for Missoula County 9-1-1 dispatchers. Not because of the call, but because of what we don't do.

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During a recent on-air conversation with Adrianne Beck, Director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, she told me the county's dispatchers are dealing with a significant increase in the number of "hang-up" 9-1-1 calls. And that's creating extra work because of the procedures dispatchers have to follow to make sure someone isn't in trouble and just made an accidental call.

"What is very common is people inadvertently call 911 and be embarrassed about it and then hang up right away," Beck said. "What they don't recognize is that when we get those types of calls, we have to call you back. And that takes up a dispatcher's time. That takes up valuable time from answering other 9-1-1 lines."

You can't "beat" the system

Years ago on landlines, it was often easier to start a call, but hang up before it actually went through. But today's digital switching systems are much faster. So you really can't "beat" the call completing by punching the "hang-up" button.

Beck says the better approach is to stay on the line so dispatchers can clear the call and move on to real emergencies.

"If you happen to accidentally call 911, it's OK. Just stay on the line so we can confirm that it was an accident and it saves everybody a lot of time."

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