Calling 9-1-1 from Your Cell Phone Just Got Easier - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/23/03

Calling 9-1-1 from Your Cell Phone Just Got Easier

Making the call that could save your life just got better. In an emergency every second counts. But if you use your cell phone to call 9-1-1 it used to be almost impossible to track down where that call was coming from, but not anymore. 

"I think I got raped right now."  Last September this frantic 9-1-1 call came into the Lubbock dispatch center from a woman who had just been raped.

"We're in a van somewhere, I don't know where in Lubbock," said the caller.

Not knowing the victim's whereabouts, the dispatcher took several minutes to locate her and send help. "Okay, you need to try and find a landmark you can give me.  Ma'am I need you to listen to me. I understand what's going on. I need you to look around where you are. Are you around houses or businesses?" asks the dispatcher.

"Houses, please help me, please help me. Get over here," said the caller. Without her exact location, responding to her call took away precious time. 

Michael Grossie with the slaton dispatch center says now, the new Global Positioning System technology or GPS is helping make calls like that a thing of the past. 

"This new technology allows 9-1-1 centers to locate a wireless telephone caller when they call 9-1-1," says Grossie. It's part of phase two enhanced 9-1-1 service and cell phone companies say it's one of the biggest advantages ever offered with a cell phone. 

"If you were to call 9-1-1 from your phone if that 9-1-1 district has that capability then they could locate you via the GPS on your phone," says Carrie Blair with B Wireless.

Here's how it works. You call 9-1-1 on your cell phone and a special gps chip inside your phone tells the dispatcher exactly where you are using satellites.

"This is where the caller is located. It may not give us an address this is one just happened to being up an address because it was here at an intersection," says Grossie.

Without an intersection it can still pinpoint the caller within 50 feet or less.

"The most important thing is we want to save somebody's life. We want to be able to find them in an emergency," says Grossie.

Most cell phone's are equipped with this technology but you should check with your service provider to make sure. Also, the 9-1-1 dispatch center has to have the software capability to pinpoint your location.

Most metro areas have it, including Lubbock and more cities across the country are making it part of their dispatch centers.

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