North Island 911 is launching a new awareness campaign to try to reduce the number of accidental 911 calls. The company handles emergency calls from Nanaimo to Port Hardy and Port Alberni to Powell River.

President Larry Samson says accidental calls make up around 16 per cent of calls dispatchers take, which puts strain on resources.

“When the accidental call is discontinued without the dispatcher being able to verify that the person is safe, we must follow certain procedures. We have to notify [to the RCMP] while they have a chance to check out this call to ensure the caller is in a safe environment.”

He notes that, “it’s not just a simple matter of us being able to write it off. We have a set of procedures, a set guidelines we must follow.”

Samson says there are things people can do to reduce accidental 911 calls including:

1) Making sure your phone is locked.

2) Making sure 911 is not pre-programmed into either cell or landline phones.

3) Never give old cell phones to kids to play with, since even decommissioned phones can still dial 911.

Samson says if you do dial 911 by accident, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know it was an accidental call.