Ill. Dispatchers Say Calls From Cell Phones Can be Difficult to Track

OPS

Ill. Dispatchers Say Calls From Cell Phones Can be Difficult to Track

News Aug 11, 2016

Aug. 11--When you dial 9-1-1, perhaps the most important piece of information you can provide is your location, but often callers aren't able to tell dispatchers the address they're calling from.

"It's a huge issue. It's frustrating, especially if you've got someone having a medical emergency or a fight," said Jeanette Morse, a supervisor at the Emergency Communications Center that handles calls for the city of Peoria and Peoria County.

Calls from landlines can instantly deliver a litany of information, including address, the resident's name and call back number, but more than 80% of 9-1-1 calls in Peoria come from cellphones.

Within a few seconds of receiving a cellphone call, a dispatcher's screen will display the approximate location of the call. To get more specific information, they have to contact the phone carrier directly and ask for a "ping," a process that in life or death situations can cost valuable time.

The primary service that dispatchers will see only delivers location within a 150-meter radius at best, which may be enough when dispatchers need to defer a prank call, but can be an issue when police, fire or ambulance crews need to be sent to the scene.

"That's not too bad in a cornfield or out on a rural road, but in an urban setting when you have 30 or 40 houses on a 150-meter stretch of road it can be more of a problem unless they're outside," ECC manager David Tuttle said.

Dispatchers have the ability to use a second-tier location service that takes longer to locate but can be more accurate, but even that accuracy can vary widely depending on terrain, whether the caller is inside or outside and what device someone is using to call.

And in some cases, like a recent Illinois River rescue of a disoriented man on a boat who couldn't describe his location to dispatchers, it's no help at all. For calls coming from a river or body of water not attached to an address, dispatcher's don't immediately have any specific location information.

In cases like that one, dispatchers located the man through a "ping," but that service is only available through cellphone carriers. Dispatchers have to contact the company and explain the situation to ask for the location information; in cases of life or death, the companies are usually quick to comply.

The bottom line is callers shouldn't assume that dispatchers can locate them when calling from a cellphone.

Continue Reading

Whenever possible, use a landline when calling 9-1-1. When it's not, look for any information that could be helpful for emergency crews looking for you: a street name, description of the building or nearby vehicles or landmarks.

Laura Nightengale is the Journal Star health and lifestyle reporter. She can be reached at 686-3181 and lnightengale@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauranight.

Copyright 2016 - Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.

Source
Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.
Laura Nightengale
FBI, first responders, and the American Red Cross worked around the clock to find the four missing men until Cosmo DiNardo confessed to killing them, leading police to their burial ground.
Scenes function better when EMS can work collaboratively

Summer means mass gatherings, like festivals, sporting events and other popular crowd draws, and those bring their own unique sets of EMS challenges.

Dispatch centers will lose funds entirely if the bill aiming to increase phone surcharges to help support and improve the 9-1-1 call centers is vetoed by the governor.

Ambulance service in Tennessee's Decatur County is in danger of interruption because EMS is out of money, according to Mayor Mike Creasy. 

Leaders from three recent responses debated some pressing questions 

As the tragedies of terrorist attacks continue to unfold, first responders everywhere know one day the call may come to them. Whether it be in a Manchester arena, the London Parliament or outside a Stockholm department store, citizens expect a prepared and competent response.  

In the final days of August 2016, the citizens of Pasco County, Fla., were preparing for Hurricane Hermine, the first to make landfall in Florida in over 10 years.
Ever since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the world’s maritime nations have created and updated a framework to maintain minimum safety standards for merchant and passenger vessels. For the United States this responsibility falls to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Police, fire and EMS agencies will partake in an exercise involving an active shooter at a local elementary school.
Nine emergency agencies, including a crisis response team, trained for a drill that included a hostage situation and explosion.
EMS, fire and police agencies participated in an active shooter training exercise in light of the increasingly frequent shooting incidents across the country.
New dangers have arisen from the influx of fentanyl into the drug market.
Greg Gibson of the DHS' Emergency Services Sector discusses current threats facing first responders.
The FBI will be working with police, firefighters and other local agencies on how to respond to a maritime terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction during a two-day training exercise that will begin Wednesday.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection continues monitoring developments of threats following the terrorist attack in London.