RALEIGH—For some people in North Carolina, the 10-digit dialing took a little getting use to.
Now three months after it went into effect, some people trying to dial the 919 area code are having their call go through to the 911 call center by mistake. A mistake that is keeping dispatchers busy.
"We had one employee who by herself answered over 5,200 inbound calls in a 30-day period. There are some 911 centers in this state and in this country that don't take that many calls in a month or a year," said Wake Emergency Communications Director Barry Furey.
Furey said since the changeover operators in Wake County have fielded between 300 and 400 additional calls each day. And they aren't alone. In Johnston County they have seen a 200 percent increase in call volume. In Durham County the call center use to average about 100 911 hang ups daily. That number has since increased to 125.
Emergency officials say most of the mis-dialings aren't coming from cell phones but rather landlines. And they are also urging callers to stay on the line and tell the operator that they dialed 911 by mistake as opposed to hanging up.
“You won't be the first person to ever dial 911 in error. I think we're getting somewhere but the rest of the battle now is to keep that call from happening to begin with," said Furey.
Wake County has a campaign urging callers to dial carefully. Wherever the call is coming from officials hope callers will catch themselves so that dispatchers can focus on the task at hand of handling emergencies.