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Thursday, December 22, 2005

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Donna

Just a note from a 911 dispatcher....While, by law, all cell phone service providers are supposed to have upgraded their equipment by now so that all cell phones are capable of giving locations of the call, the cost for 911 centers is, in almost all instances, prohibative. Most centers simply cannot afford the new equipment. It is just as frustrating for the dispatcher trying to figure out where the caller is as it is for the caller. Many callers simply do not pay attention to what landmarks or milepost marker they may have passed or even which highway they are on. Just telling us you are about 125 from a major city does not help.

If you are going to call 911, may I offer some suggestions....
1. Know or find out the address of the location you are calling from. Sometimes just the name of the business will help, but the address is the most helpful.
2. Realize, if you call from a cell phone, your call may not go to the closest dispatch center. I work in Southern Idaho and know of calls from as far away as Park City, Utah and John Day, Oregon that have come into our center.
3. While our job is to get you help as quickly as possible, we are also responsible to determine, by your words only, if there is any danger that our responding units will face. Those seemingly "stupid questions" help us keep our officers safe.
4. If you have cell phones that no longer have service, by law you can still use them to call 911. Donate them to women's shelter, senior citizens, etc. If you decide to let your give them to your child as a toy, please take the battery out or leave the phone on until it is dead.
5. If you pass a vehicle stopped on the road or an accident, and their are already one or two other cars stopped to help, chances are we have already gotten numerous calls. Only call if there is no one there. Please do not call if there are already emergency units on scene.

Here are some examples of the types of calls that I have taken from cell callers....

*Children calling over and over on a stolen cell phone laughing.
*A man, using a fake accent, calling several times (with 3-4 weeks between each call) saying he had been stabbed at an unknown location.
*A man who repeatedly called, hung up, called again, hung up, called again, for over 20 minutes. He only stopped when I threatened him with charges of misuse of 911 and that I would have his service suspended.

My area is almost 6,000 square miles.... There is no way I can know every trail, nook, and cranny....Our decisions are based on what you as the caller sees....Lack of information can cost lives....Please help us help you. Thanks.

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