Repeat 911 hang up caller gets a gift instead of a trip to jail

(KUTV) Valley Emergency Communications Center dispatchers are problem solvers, and today they proved it in a non-emergency situation. They pooled their cash to buy one of their regular callers an iPod. { }

Why, you ask, would they reward someone who calls 911 on a regular basis? Simple: They free up their phone lines for real emergencies.

Dispatchers answer thousands of calls a day, responding to emergencies and life-and-death situations, but recently they've been getting calls with no one on the other end.{ } In one week, dispatchers say they got 4,000 calls from one number.

Every time there would be no answer, and the caller would hang up. Dispatchers can't just assume the calls were mistakes.

"Every time someone calls 911, we have to make a call, call them back, and try to make sure they're okay," says dispatcher Kari Bueno.

When dispatchers couldn't get answers on why they were getting so many calls from one number, they asked police to help out.{ } What they found was not what they expected.

The caller was a 30-year-old man named David, who has special needs. He had an old cell phone he used to listen to music, and while he was trying to pull up songs, he would instead call 911. Though the phone service was disabled, 911 calls could still be placed.

David’s phone was taken away, and the dispatchers felt badly they were leaving him without a way to play his music. “We wanted to find a way for him to do that without taking away [resources] from 911 dispatch," Bueno says.{ } So the dispatchers pooled together some money and bought David a new iPod, with a touchscreen.

David was thrilled when they handed over the Christmas gift this afternoon, but he had one more surprise: a $100 iTunes gift card.
David's parents say this act of kindness is "simply amazing" and has touched not just their son, but the entire family.


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