Prank 911 calls under investigation
Authorities are investigating prank calls made to McCreary County 911 that tied up emergency crews and potentially put others in danger as first responders were responding to the fake calls.
Two calls from the same cell phone 10 days apart sent McCreary County emergency responders on wild goose chases.
The first occurred on August 2 when a caller reported a subject walking near Old Bailey Road who claimed he had been shot.
The initial call came in at 1:17 p.m. and the McCreary County Sheriff’s Office and McCreary County EMS responded to the location in an attempt to find the individual needing assistance.
No one was ever found, and 911 could not make contact with the caller again to get additional information.
The search was suspended two hours later with all responding crews standing down.
On August 10, at 9:30 p.m. a caller reported his father had been shot in the face on Beulah Heights Road. The initial call stated he had heard a shot from inside the residence, and went outside to find his father lying on the ground and a subject leaving the scene on foot.
Again, the Sheriff’s Office and EMS responded, only to find no evidence of any attack.
After nearly two hours, the search was called off.
Looking at the Computer Assisted Dispatch logs provided from McCreary County 911 both calls came from the same phone number, but the caller used different names each time.
There also have been reported fires in the Pine Knot Fire District that are under investigation.
According to the CAD report, a caller alerted 911 to a structure fire on Son In Law Ridge Road on August 4 at 8:30 p.m.
When the dispatcher asked the caller’s identity, he stuttered and said “Travis.” When asked to provide a last name, the caller hung up. When 911 Dispatch attempted to call back, the cell phone was listed as disconnected.
Crews from the Pine Knot Fire Department and Kentucky State Police responded to the area, but no fire was ever found, and they finally cancelled their search after more than two hours.
In all above instances, emergency personnel were away from base for more than two hours, tying them up if another call had come in needing assistance at the same time.
“Any time you make a report to 911, things automatically go into motion,” McCreary County 911 Assistant Director Willie Duncan said. “We notify the appropriate agencies, and they respond as soon as possible with all necessary units.”
“A false report not only wastes everybody’s time and tax payer money, it potentially takes emergency responders away from another call that could involve a life-threatening situation.”
Duncan said calls made from a pre-pay phone are hard to trace, since the user does not have to register a name or address when purchasing such a phone.
They are able to trace a general idea of the location of the caller at the time of the call by using the nearby cell towers, but the chances of actually pinpointing the caller are low unless they are able to maintain contact when responders are in the area.
A disconnected cell phone will still have the ability to call 911.
Duncan said a person found to have made false reports to 911 could face fines or criminal charges if convicted.