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 How To Stop 911 Misdials



I get this question every once in a while: 

"How do I stop accidental 911 calls?"

On a Mitel 3300 the solution is far simpler than most people expect.  Usually they ask me to change their outbound access from a '9' to an '8'.  That would be a lot of work and completely unnecessary. 

What causes an accidental 911 call?   Usually what happens is someone starts dialing a number such as 1800-555-1212 by dialing the outside access code '9' then the '1', then they stop to verify the number and then dial '1-800-555-1212'.    The problem is that they just dialed '911-800-555-1212'.  The PBX will ignore anything after the 911, send out an emergency call and the police show up at your door.


Side Note:

It is possible for a trunk to dial 911 without even being connected to your PBX.  


This affects Loop Start / Ground Start Trunks.   Not SIP or ISDN Trunks


Most central office lines are designed so that if someone goes off hook and on hook repeatedly it will automatically call emergency services.   In this case you can think of a phone being connected to the line and the user hitting the hook switch rapidly several times.  This is possible if the carrier has a bad cable pair and it shorts and un-shorts repeatedly.   Central office techs call this a "swinging short". 


So if you find that you have a loop start trunk calling 911, it may not be someone in your office misdialing.  Have your carrier check the trunk.



Here's the solution:

How to Prevent 911 Misdials

  • Log into your PBX administration tool and go to "All Forms Alphabetically".
  • Find the form "System Speed Calls"
  • Click Add to create a new system speed dial.  The speed dial number is '911*' with the 'actual number' of '0'.   Note two things here:
    • The '*' in '911*" is not a wildcard.  It's the dialable digit on your telephone keypad.
    • The 'actual number' you program can be any real dialable number.   I usually use zero for the operator but it could just as well be your cell phone number.

Sound's too simple to be true but that's it.  There's nothing more to do.



How Does This Stop 911 Accidental Emergency Calls?


Here why this works.   When you dial 911 the system knows there is another number programmed in the system, 911*, so it will wait about 5 seconds to be sure you meant to dial '911' and not '911*'.   If you wait the 5 seconds then the call goes out normally.   If you actually dial '911*',  the call will ring the actual number you programmed in the system speed dial form.  Now here's the beauty of this, because of the way the Mitel 3300 handles digit conflicts, if you dial '911+<any other digit> you will get an error tone so now, no one can dial '911+800-555-1212' because they will get an error tone.



One last thing.

Don't forget to program your system to dial '911' and '9-911'.   In a real emergency situation you don't want people to have to worry about weather they need to dial a '9' to get an outside line or not so program the system to handle it either way.   If your system is programmed for '911' alone, you can add '9911' to your system speed dial table with an actual number of '911'.  


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