When dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency, the expectation is that emergency dispatchers will send you the help you need. What most Americans don’t realize is if your 9-1-1 call is placed from a wireless phone, your location isn’t always sent to the dispatchers, and when it is, that information is often unreliable or inaccurate.
No one wants to be in a position where they need to call 9-1-1. When people do place that urgent call, it’s because they are in crucial need of life-saving help. Maybe a child is sick, or the caller is seriously injured, or under attack. Whatever the reason, the caller is in desperate need of help and may not be able to communicate their location. When calling for help from a landline, the caller’s location is forwarded to emergency dispatchers, but the system in place for emergency calls from wireless phones is not the same.
When wireless phones are used to call 9-1-1 without location information, dispatchers must ask the caller to describe their location, when the person in trouble may not know where they are, may not have enough time to describe it, or may be unable to communicate. When the location information received by dispatchers is inaccurate, it may lead to delays in reaching the caller.
More than one-third of Americans are giving up their landlines and relying exclusively on wireless devices. In fact, more than 70 percent of all emergency calls are now being placed from wireless phones. This problem is sure to grow, and we need to see immediate action by our regulators to update the 9-1-1 standards before another life is put in jeopardy.
The regulations governing our emergency response system is not keeping up with our wireless age, and we need the FCC to modernize its standards for wireless 9-1-1 accuracy. Outdated regulations are endangering our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and must be updated at once.