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[personal profile] meliska13

"The movies have lied to you. :O

Please, please, please, for the love of god, don't call 911 from a cell phone and drop it and think that we'll automatically respond.

Here is the 911 system's cell-phone policies, and agreements with cell phone companies.

1. When you call 911 from a cell phone, we get one of four types of information.

---> The most basic comes in as "CELL." All we get is your cell phone number, not a damn thing else.

---> A step up is "phase 1 wireless." This is the most common cell-phone type for the 90's and early 00's, which generates the address of the cell tower off of which your signal has bounced. Wee. So if you're calling from an interstate, we get the address of the tower 8 miles east of you at the time of your call. This information does not update if your signal switches towers.

---> The very best we can get is "phase 2 wireless." This includes later model phones, and provides us with a decent GPS location. I say decent, because it's not really that great. We can pinpoint your location at the time of your call, within 100 meters. What does that mean to you? Well if you're in a very crowded city, in an apartment building, in apartment 612, it means we have the location of... your city BLOCK. And maybe a few of the surrounding blocks.

---> The third type (and this is the testiest) is the cable phone (such as vonage). Vonage only recently struck an agreement with 911 to offer their service. When it originally came out, it had no 911 capability, so you had to dial your 10-digit 911 number to get the 911 office you needed -- and when it came in, we got nothing. No name, no phone number, no location. NOTHING. You could be calling from Wayling, Washington, and we could receive your call in Florida and have no clue where you came from or how you got there.

2. When you call 911 from a cell phone, we have three different types of responses.

---> If you call and hang up, with no voice contact, we attempt to call you back. If we get voice-mail, we're done with the call. We drop it. There's nothing else we can do.

---> If you call, make voice contact and hang up, we attempt to call you back. If you gave us an address before we lost your call, we'll go to that address. If you didn't, and you weren't in a dire emergency (that we could determine), we drop the call. That's it. Nothing else we can do.

---> If you call, make voice contact and drop the phone (leaving an open line), we try to stay on the line. This is just so we can hear if anything bad is going on. If we hear nothing, we hang up.

If we hear something, we stay on the phone. If we hear something bad (shouting, gunshots, etc.), we'll call your cell phone company. Someone else in our center has to call the cell phone company while the original calltaker stays on the line. They get your subscriber information, and pray that your address is the place you're calling from -- because if it's not, you just wasted a phone call.

The cell phone companies have an agreement with 911 agencies that they will only give out subscriber information if there is a PROVEN life or death situation in progress. I cannot get your information if it didn't sound like you needed immediate help. Many cell phone companies differ on this issue, so you should probably contact your company and see how strict they are -- some of them require us to provide them written documentation as to the cause of the emergency, along with tapes of you screaming into the phone, etc.

Now let me give you a scenario. You call 911. You scream into your cell phone, and you hang up.

This requires me to attempt to call you back. I waste 40 seconds doing so, and get voice-mail. While I'm doing so, I find your cellular company (listed on our screen), and I desperately search for the number I need to call for "compliance requests" for your specific phone company.

I hang up and call the phone company. I listen to their voice-mail system. I get to an operator, state my name and organization, my call-back number, your cell-phone number, and the nature of the emergency (you screamed into the phone). I have just wasted another 2-3 minutes. I hang up.

They're required to call me back and verify that I'm actually with the agency/number I gave them. I wait for them to call. This takes anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes.

I get your subscriber information (which is whatever you gave as your address when you signed up with your cell phone company), put it into my system, and dispatch a unit to that address. Hopefully you're there. If you're not, you just wasted about 7-10 minutes of your life (which, if you're in an emergency, is probably all the time you had) by not giving me an address.

So in the future, if you need to call 911, please be kind enough to spit out an address, a street name, a business name, or a location of any sort, into your receiver before you drop your phone. It might just save your life.

Feel free to pass on the information. ~.~"


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December 2007

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