When you’re in an emergency, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your 911 call will get through. People with mischievous kids who like to prank this emergency number or someone in an emergency situation who has had to call more than once might be concerned that their number is at risk of being blocked, but is this true?
911 cannot block your number. It is not permitted by protocol or legislature in any state for employees to block a phone number. This emergency service must respond to every report for the sake of social safety and health. Blocking numbers would prevent people from making future calls in the event of an emergency.
In this article, we will answer other common questions related to 911 calls, such as the repercussions of abusing this service and whether employees can put you on hold or even hang up while you are on the line.
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Can 911 Put Me on Hold?
Another common concern people have, partially due to stories spreading throughout the news, is whether 911 can place them on hold once they’ve called, even if they are in a dire emergency situation.
While it is highly unlikely that a 911 operator would put you on hold, it is possible if the facility is overwhelmed with multiple calls coming in at once. In this case you would likely be sent to a voicemail system or kept on hold until another operator is available.
Unfortunately, instances like these are increasing in frequency due to a shortage of 911 operators nationwide.
This has left callers on hold for a few seconds up to several minutes. To make matters worse, the shortage has caused numerous facilities to shut down, which means callers are being outsourced to 911 facilities further away.
The result is increased response time and a higher potential of calls being placed on hold as this facility now covers the needs of residents in two regions.
But that is just referencing when people initially call 911. Your operator might also put you on hold during your call while they contact other emergency services or for similar reasons aimed at assisting you.
In both cases, they will explicitly explain what they’re doing and why, so the hold period is as stress-free as possible.
Have you ever wondered if you can call 911 anonymously? I wrote an entire article about it which you can check out by following that link.
Can 911 Hang Up on Me?
Emergency situations are stressful and terrifying enough on their own without the additional fear that your 911 operator will hang up on you mid-call. The question is: how reasonable is this fear?
If you are in a confirmed emergency situation, your 911 operator will not hang up on you unless the situation requires it. An example would be for them to hang up and call again to locate your phone and, by extension, you. They might also need to hang up to contact a certain emergency service for you.
That being said, 911 operators aren’t legally required to stay on the line with you in every situation. Most are required by protocol to stay on the line, and even so, they probably wouldn’t even consider hanging up on a caller.
However, there are times when it might be warranted. Prank calls are a prime example of this.
If the operator can determine that the call is a blatant misuse of the service and is inhibiting them from assisting other callers, they might hang up. But usually, they’ll urge the caller to hang up instead.
What Happens If You Prank Call 911?
If you’re concerned about 911 blocking your phone number, most likely the reason is that you know the device has been used to call the number more times than is appropriate (most likely young kids making prank calls).
Also, if you accidentally call 911 they will not block your number. I wrote an article on what to do in case you accidentally call 911, click the link to check it out.
Since we already know that 911 is not legally permitted to block a number that has consistently prank called them, what are the consequences for abusing this service, if any?
Prank calling 911 or performing similar actions where the service is knowingly used for reasons other than an emergency is legally considered a crime. The penalty will depend on the conditions of the case, but can include:
- A misdemeanor charge
- A felony charge
- A fine charge (amount depends on state. Average is $1,000-$2,500)
- A jail time sentence (amount depends on state and crime charge. Average is 1-3 years)
At first glance, these punishments might seem severe, but they are in place to reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Abusing the 911 service when you are not in an emergency situation prevents employees from assisting individuals who are, which could have serious consequences.
If you ever questioned whether 911 has or will block your phone number, you can rest at ease knowing that this never occurs.
However, if you see this as a green light to abuse the service, keep in mind that heavy penalties are set in place for such a crime that far exceed a caller block.