Alpharetta launches automated 911 hangup return call system

Hang up calls can cost valuable time and money when it comes to emergency response.  Now, the City of Alpharetta has a new system in place to minimize the cost and impact of these "abandoned" 911 calls.

The city's new Viper 911 system is up and running.  Any time a caller dials 911 and then hangs up, the program automatically calls them back and plays a recorded message prompting them what to do.

"It's going to say, 'Press 1 if you have a true emergency,'  'Press 2 if you need police or fire, but it's a non-emergency,' or 'Press 4 if you accidentally dialed 911,'" explained George Gordon with the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety. 

If the caller indicates that he or she does need assistance, the system will connect the call to a live 911 dispatcher. 

Gordon says Alpharetta is the first city in the country to implement this type of system and they believe it will save time and critical emergency resources. 

"In fact, it can be life-saving," said Gordon.  "[Be]cause think about if somebody accidentally dials 911 and we have to send the nearest firefighters or police officers from the police station and the fire house.  They respond to this simply because there's nobody to talk to, somebody's mis-dialed, yet a true emergency happens in their vicinities.  So, now we're having to deal with two things and we'd rather have them on an actual emergency."

According to Gordon, Alpharetta's 911 center handles an average of 4,000 emergency calls per month.  In May 2016, they had 466 "abandoned" calls.  Before Viper 911, dispatchers had to try to return all of those calls.  Officials hope Viper 911 will help them deal with hang ups more efficiently. 

"If nobody answers, we're sending help, [be]cause we don't know what's going on, but if we can get somebody to tell us this was an accidental dial, that saves time, money and resources getting the public safety personnel en route--I mean that's tremendous benefits," Gordon said.