911 is that number in the back of all our minds that we would instinctively use in an emergency, but do you and more importantly, everyone in your organization, know what happens when you dial 911 on you enterprise phone system? Most enterprise PBX systems, including AltiGen, ShoreTel, and Teo, will pass a 911 call to your local dispatch center, even if your system typically requires a 9 or 7 to get an outside line. Keep in mind, it will also work as desired if someone uses the access code and then dials 911. While it is reassuring to know that this works either way, it can also create some unforeseen problems.
We have all had days where we think we’ve dialed one number and our phone tells us we have dialed a very different number. This may become a problem if you have to dial 9 for an outside line and go to make a long distance call, so the next number you dial is 1. Next thing you know, you have pressed 1 twice and your phone is instantly ringing into the 911 dispatcher. What should you do? The obvious answer is to stay on the line until dispatch answers and let them know that you made the call by mistake and that there is no emergency. However, you may be surprised how many people, quickly hang up the phone hoping they are able to do so before the call begins ringing dispatch. Next thing you know, there are multiple police officers showing up at your door. Since they have been dispatched to a hangup 911 call, they will likely be quite serious because they have no additional information and must expect the worst. Depending on local protocols, your business could be issued a warning and/or fined for this “prank” call. This potentially expensive and most likely stressful situation can be avoided by ensuring your staff understands how your phone system handles 911 and periodically issuing reminders of how to appropriately handle the situation if 911 is dialed by mistake.