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March 7, 2018

Safety Message


Is there an emergency and you need to call 9-1-1? Here is some very important information that you need to be aware of before you make the call. Dispatch centers face several challenges due to the increasing use of cell phones and landline billing addresses:

1.  When calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone, your approximate GPS address is sent to the dispatch center.  Depending on the age of the phone, it is accurate to within a few meters to many meters.  This is helpful if you’re standing by yourself in the middle of an empty football field, but isn’t quite as useful if you’re calling from your apartment.  In the second case, it leaves the emergency responders having to knock on the doors of all of your neighbors to try to find you.  Be prepared to give your address, possibly more than once, to pinpoint your location.

2. Even though your telephone number is transmitted to the 9-1-1 center, they will always ask you to verify the number to ensure that they have the correct number to call you back if your phone should drop the call.

3.  Cell phone technology sends your call to the 9-1-1 center for the city where the cell tower is located, not your location.  Your phone could be attached to a cell tower outside of the city you are in.  It is easier said than done, but be patient while the call is handled and transferred to the appropriate center. Callers need to know the address they are calling from and the address where resources are needed, and they also need to know what city they are in or if they are in the unincorporated county.

4. Even if your cell phone is not active with a cellular provider, it will still call 9-1-1.  Please do not give your phones to children as toys…it can result in false 9-1-1 calls, taking the time of dispatch call-takers so that they are not available to answer other calls.

5. If you call 9-1-1 from a business phone landline, please be able to tell the call-taker the address that you are calling from. Many businesses have a central or corporate billing address that is different than satellite business locations. The billing address is what the call-taker sees on the computer screen, which means resources could be sent to a location other than where they are actually needed. This is a very important point! For example, a company that is located in Cottonwood Heights could have satellite offices out of state and they could all be tied into the Cottonwood Heights central system. If someone calls 9-1-1 from their office phone in another state, it would ring at VECC, which is one of the dispatch centers here in the Salt Lake Valley! 

While the technology of cell phones is a convenience that most of us enjoy, please be aware of the potential complications that this technology can create and become familiar with the points in this article.


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