Almost 40% of New York’s 911 Calls Are ‘Butt Dials’

Some 10,000 calls a day to the city's emergency response number are accidental, a new report estimates.

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Butt-dialing your girlfriend is one thing, but accidentally calling 911 is another.New York City’s emergency operators receive almost 4 million calls a year from people accidentally dialing 911 on their cell phones—most of them “butt dials” (or “pocket dials,” if you’re being polite).

The New York Daily News reports:

“An astounding 38% of some 10.4 million calls to 911 during 2010 involved such accidental or false alarm “short calls” of 19 seconds or less — that’s an average of 10,700 false calls a day.”

These statistics were made public in a report released by Mayor Bloomberg last Friday following a court battle with the firefighters’ union. The report, commissioned after the city’s failure or delay to respond to thousands of calls during a major blizzard in 2010, was conducted by Virginia-based Winbourne Consulting Group. The group advised City Hall to launch a “public awareness” campaign to curb these accidental calls.

(READ: Verizon to Let Customers Text 911 During Emergencies)

Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday that he “didn’t even bother” to read the report, the Associated Press reports, though he said, “We take it very seriously.”

However, the report indicates that no measures have been taken to remedy the influx of accidental calls; in fact, they might even make 911 response times appear shorter than they really are.

The report reveals:

 “The NYPD reported the 2010 System Average Total Talk Time was 1:08 minutes. Since the total number of calls received includes approximately 3.9 million short calls, utilizing this metric as currently calculated does not accurately reflect the NYPD’s time spent on received and processed 9-1-1 calls.”

The city’s emergency communications system has undergone a huge, $2 billion overhaul, including a new $680 million call center that has brought together police, fire, and medical dispatchers. City officials have insisted the new technology has helped with response times — although if 4 in 10 of the calls they’re responding to come from hip pockets or the insides of handbags, they may want to rethink how they measure that.

MORE: Study: 911 Dispatchers Experience PTSD Symptoms Too