911: Remove cell phone batteries

Published 12:02 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

Parents who give their children old cell phones to play with as toys need to be warned, that despite having no service, the phones can still make one important call: to 9-1-1.

“We’re beginning to see a big problem with kids playing with old cell phones again,” said Kristy Stamnes, Coving-ton County E-911 director.

“When people change carriers or get a new type of phone, we’re seeing parents giving those old phones to kids to play with,” she said. “What people need to know that old cell phones that have no carrier service and a charged battery can still call 9-1-1.

“When a child dials 9-1-1, the call will go through,” she said. “It’s a safety precaution. The problem for us is that we don’t know it’s a child playing on the phone when we get the call. For us, each call is treated as an emergency.”

Stamnes said if connection is lost during the call, the agency, as a courtesy, attempts to call the number back to determine if there is a real emergency.

“We try to call back, but if there’s no carrier, there’s no answer,” she said. “As long as the connection is good, we can talk to them, but if we lose them, there’s no way to call them back to determine if there’s really an emergency. We’re just asking that parents take the battery out before giving the phone to a child.”