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Cell Phones and 911

Cell Phones and 9-1-1

“911…where is your emergency?” These are the first words you will hear when you call 9-1-1.
WHERE is the most important piece of information you can give.  If we don’t know where you are, we don’t know where to send help.  When you are out traveling, particularly in unfamiliar areas, stay alert to your current location and your surroundings. Try to remember which towns you pass and be observant of mile markers on Interstates and Highways. It could save your life!

Did you know that there are over 115 million cell phones in the U.S.?

In 2017, Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority answered over 103,177 emergency and non emergency telephone calls. 22,774 were 911 calls and over 19,000 of those 911 calls were made from a cell phone.

Calls to 9-1-1 from landline phones provide the callers name, address, and call back number. This is known as E9-1-1, or Enhanced 9-1-1.  Calls from cell phones don’t provide as much essential information.  Public Safety Agencies and the FCC are working with service providers to improve this situation, and Wireless Phase II is becoming more widespread.  Phase II technology provides the 9-1-1 center with the call back number and an approximate location obtained by triangulation of cell sites or GPS information.  However, current cellular location technology is considered ‘accurate’ if it displays a caller’s location within 300 yards, (the length of three football fields).

Accidental Dialing

9-1-1 call centers around the country receive millions of accidentally dialed calls each year.  Most cell phones have a one touch button to call 9-1-1 or you can call simply by holding down the 9 key.

Many times, these keys are inadvertently pushed when the phone is in your pocket or purse. Please take a little time to go through your owner’s manual and learn how to use the keypad lock function.  Unintentional calls waste valuable time as they must be called back to verify there is not an emergency.

Deactivated Cell Phones

By Federal law, deactivated cell phones must still have the ability to dial 9-1-1.  Please keep this in mind if you intend on giving your phone to your child to play with. If you do give your old phone to your child, remove the battery first.  Little fingers playing with those buttons will eventually stumble on to 9-1-1.  Each call received could be preventing a true emergency from getting through and ties up our valuable resources.

If you keep a deactivated cell phone for emergency use only, be aware that we receive no information at all, and if we are disconnected, we can’t call you back. If you call 9-1-1 from a deactivated cell phone, be sure to give your location first.