Emergency calls without reason

Christian Stredicke
CEO of Vodia Networks

Calling the emergency number can not only save lives, it can be actually expensive.

Unfortunately it has become popular in some areas to use phones in public environments to place emergency calls out of boredom or other reasons that cannot be called an emergency. This happens in schools, but also other areas like hotels or military facilities are a problem. The costs to operate a phone system can pale in comparison to the costs caused by such false alarms.

There are a couple of things that we put into the product and there are a couple of tricks that you can do to reduce the damage done by such calls, while still making it possible to call for fast and effective help in case of real emergencies. The key is to involve local know-how about the situation, either personally knowing the people in the building or simply being able to see on video what is going on.

First of all, with the PBX we have the possibility to record the emergency call (and only the emergency calls). Those who might find this is funny might end up in the principal’s office with undeniable evidence. Rumor will spread fast discouraging others from abusing the phone system. The point here is that teachers will easily be able to identify the person and take the anonymity out of the public location of the phone.

The next possibility is more intrusive, but at the same time more effective. Instead of calling the emergency center, calls can get screened by school or hotel personal. This can be done by adding an entry to the dial plan that sends the call to an extension instead out on a trunk and assigning that dial plan to the public phones. It can actually also be a hunt group, so that several people will be able to pick up the call, which is important if this is really an emergency. If it is a real emergency, the front desk can transfer the call to the emergency call center, or even better, set up a conference call with the reporting student and the officer. This method also has the positive side effect that someone from the staff is involved, so that when the ambulance or police pulls up in front of the building, help can be immediately guided into the right direction. The additional time for the screening pays off in most cases because the staff can already prepare help before arrival.

If the dial plan redirects the call to a hunt group, a redirection after a short time can send the call without personal involvement directly to the emergency call center. This is important in case that for whatever reason nobody in the screening group is able to pick up the phone. It would be bad if the call ends up in nirvana or in a mailbox.

Regular businesses are also not immune against the problem. For example, extensive warehouses or shops with public available phones may face the same problems. Practically all environments where public phones are available in areas with little supervision the problem exists. The methods shown in this blog can also be used in those environments.