911 Hang-ups tie up emergency services; Those who dial in error should stay on line

  • Published
  • By Edwards Air Force Base Fire Department
  • 95th Air Base Wing
Whenever people need help with a fire, medical or police emergency, dialing 911 will get them the help they need very quickly under normal circumstances.

However, there is an increasing trend at Edwards that could delay the response needed for an emergency situation. That trend is a growing number of 911 hang-ups being received at the Edwards Emergency Communications Center.

A 911 hang-up is when someone accidentally dials 911 and hangs up before talking to the dispatcher and explaining the error.

The base 911 system is an enhanced 911 system that will identify the phone number and location of the individual calling 911. This system was designed to allow an emergency response to an individual who dials 911 even if that person cannot talk to the dispatcher in the event of a critical injury or illness.

The Edwards Emergency Communications Center received 74 911 hang-ups in 2010.

On average, it took approximately 14 minutes to respond, investigate, and return emergency responders to ready status. In response to a 911 hang-up, all sections of Emergency Response are activated - Security Forces, Fire, and Paramedics.

An initial 911 hang-up call will activate all these sections and the response will include 9 personnel - two from security forces, five from fire and two medics. It also includes four vehicles - two from fire and one each from security forces and medics - ranging in sizes from 4,000 to 30,000 pounds.

The cost of these 911 hang-ups, in 2010, was over $7,000.00 in operational man hours. Additionally, these forces could not respond to other emergencies until the reason for the 911 hang-up was determined and cleared.

There are many reasons for the occurrence of 911 hang-ups. Some are caused by children playing on the phone; some are pranks that aren't funny and prove costly; but most occur when an individual accidentally dials 911. If that happens, the caller should not hang up. He or she should wait for the Emergency Communications Center dispatcher to pick up the line and then explain that 911 was dialed accidentally. This course of action will eliminate the unnecessary response of all the base agencies, the cost of that response and more importantly, there will be no delay in the response of the emergency forces to a real emergency where the response time could be critical.

There is no adverse action of any kind taken for those who accidentally dial 911.


For those located within a base facility who have an emergency - whether it is medical, fire, or security forces - dialing 911 will allow them to get the assistance they need.

For those who are on the base but outside of the workplace, need emergency services and only have a cell phone available, DO NOT dial 911. For those with a cell phone on base, the correct emergency number is (661) 277-4540/4541. This will connect callers to an Emergency Communications Center dispatcher who will handle the call.
Dialing 911 from a cell phone on base will route the call to the nearest regional 911 center. At Edwards those calls will be routed to the California Highway Patrol center in Bishop. This can, and has, resulted in significant delays while the regional center researches the correct agency and transfers the call to that agency.

Most importantly, for those who accidentally dial 911, don't hang up. Stay on the line and let the Emergency Communications Center dispatcher know it was an accident.

For more information on this issue or any other fire-related safety issues, please call the Fire Prevention Office at 277-3643 or 277-0480 and they will be happy to assist.