Parents: Not Just a Toy, Deactivated Phones Still Dial 911

By Staci DaSilva |

Published 01/24 2014 06:18PM

Updated 01/24 2014 08:38PM


Kids these days always seem to be playing with cell phones. And some parents may give them an old, deactivated phone as a toy. But did you know those phones can still make calls?

2-year old Eban Dodge has been playing with cell phones before he could even talk.

His mother, Suzanne Dodge of Johnson, VT said, "Oh boy. He started probably before he was a year old and we gave him an old phone. He's actually called my husband a few times. We took the battery out of my old phone when we gave it to him."

A smart idea because those old phones can call a very important number: 911. David Turner, Executive Director of Vermont's Enhanced 9-1-1 Board, says some kids have gotten through to a dispatcher.

“A lot of those come from those phones. They give the phone to the kid to play with, as a toy, and they're dialing on the phone and all of a sudden, they dial 911,” said David Turner.

9% of the 208,000 emergency calls in Vermont annually, come from deactivated phones. The FCC mandates that phone carriers keep them connected for emergencies only.

And when little tikes are on the other end, it distracts from real emergencies, especially considering dispatchers can't call back a deactivated phone.

“The time that they're spending dealing with non-initialized phone calls, where we can't make a response, takes away time that they could be doing other things,” said Turner.

Other states have asked the FCC to stop allowing emergency calls on deactivated phones because of hang-ups. Vermont was not one of those states because sometimes, the calls do involve real emergencies.

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