Officials ask for public’s help in reducing GRTC Pulse emergency button misuse

Posted at 2:00 PM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 14:00:32-04

The new GRTC pulse busses are a big hit among Richmonders traveling throughout the city – and apparently, so are the station’s emergency call buttons.

The 25 emergency call buttons located on posts throughout the city’s Pulse station have generated 95 calls to 911 from May 5 – July 30. But of those calls, 85 of them were silent; a sign that the buttons are being misused by Pulse riders.

“Whenever we get a silent call to 911, whether it’s from an emergency call box or anywhere else, we attempt to call back at least two times to determine the location and type of emergency,” said Stephen Willoughby, director of the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications. “If we are not able to reach anyone, but we are able to determine the location, we dispatch a police officer to investigate. So if there is no emergency, the time and resources of our communications officers and police officers have been used unnecessarily.”

The Richmond Department of Emergency Communications and GRTC are working together to find ways to reduce the number of these unnecessary calls from Pulse stations, with possibilities discussed including adding additional signs and placing clear covers over the buttons.

The public is asked to help reduce misuse of the emergency call buttons by avoiding leaning on the posts and preventing children from playing near or pressing the call buttons.

If the buttons are pressed accidentally, citizens should stay by the call box and explain to the call-taker that the call was a mistake.

These actions will prevent additional 911 telephone lines and communication officers from being used for callbacks and prevent a police officer from being dispatched unnecessarily to investigate.