Emergency dispatchers in Astoria, Oregon were frustrated with a mother who let her one year old call 911 multiple times, for no reason at all.
The baby racked up so many 911 calls that they went to the house and arrested the toddler’s mother, Jessica May.
She was charged with improper use of an emergency reporting system.
After the baby called a couple of times, authorities warned May that she would be arrested if she continued to let the baby dial the number. Even when she was given that frightening warning, she continued to give her mobile phone to the baby.
While this case seems surprising, it’s not as uncommon as many think. Non-emergency calls to 911 and “butt dials” have affected many US cities.
Last year, New York City had nearly 4 million “accidental” emergency calls, and the number was typically the same for years before that as well.
The problem is serious as 911 dispatchers are forced to answer every call, and if there’s a real emergency, there’s a chance they would be unable to act in a timely manner.
To avoid situations like the one May faced, many families are teaching their children proper phone rules.
One mother, also from Astoria, said she teaches her 4-year-old the seriousness of calling 911. When she doesn’t have her phone on her, she hides it so her daughter can’t get to it.
And when mother Nicholle Mann lets her child play games on her phone, she puts the sound on so she knows if she is making a call.
“It could potentially cause someone to lose their life because their child is holding up the line because they’re not paying attention,” she said.
It turns out, accidental 911 calls take a long time to sort out, as each call requires a dispatcher to call back and double-check that there is not an actual emergency.
Misusing emergency call lines could result in a $6,000 fine and up to one year in jail.