Calling 911? Or Did You Just Sit Down?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a study this week that shows that 38 percent of the calls received by New York's emergency services are mistakes, mobile phones that dial 911 when a user jostles a phone in their purse or pocket.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Are you calling 911 or you just glad to sit down? Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a study this week that shows that 38 percent of the calls received by New York's emergency services are mistakes - mobile phones that dial 911 when a user jostles a phone in their purse or pocket. The popular term for such calls is pocket or butt calls.

But it's a serious problem. That's about 4 million calls a year, which can tie up emergency services. In fact, the report was released only after a lawsuit was filed by the New York firefighters union, which wants to show how the proliferation of cell phones has increased and complicated their workload.

The report was commissioned after complaints that 911 operators were as slow to answer during New York's Christmas Blizzard of 2010 as an airline's lost-baggage line. But maybe all those pocket calls can explain why your spouse's cell phone bill shows so many calls to Brad Pitt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU")

STEVIE WONDER: I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care. I do. I just called to say I love you.

SIMON: Hello. Hello. One of those calls again. You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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