9-1-1 & Wireless Phones

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“The 9-1-1 industry is facing its biggest challenge since turning up service in the 1990’s. Consumers are taking advantage of an explosion of new communications technologies in record numbers. These consumers need to understand how these technologies work with 9-1-1, so that they can make an informed decision, before they have an emergency situation.”

Christy Williams
National Emergency Number
Association Public Education Chair

Wireless vs. Landline Phone Service
Many people are foregoing traditional “land line” service and using their cell phone as their home phone. Some important issues to keep in mind before making this decision…
  • A typical home or work phone gives 9-1-1 calltakers an exact location. Cell phones with location technology only provide approximate locations. In addition, not all cell phones have location technology.
  • Cellular location technology is considered “accurate” if it displays a cellular caller’s location within 300 yards – that’s the length of three football fields.
  • Richardson is one of few cities in the metroplex utilizing updated technology and equipment to receive cellular locations. However, if you are traveling, many 9-1-1 centers across the nation are NOT equipped to receive location information, and if you have an outdated phone, your location information may not be received by the calltaker.
  • Wireless Number Portability: If you decide to change your cellular phone carrier but keep your same cell phone number, remember it can take up to two weeks before your information is updated into the carrier’s database. During that time 9-1-1 may not have access to your cellular number or be able to determine your location.
Things to Remember:
  • Keep your cell phone battery charged.
  • Make sure children and guests in your home have access to a cell phone and know how to use it.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows, or has access to your home address.
  • When away from home, always know your location and be ready to give directions to the 9-1-1 calltaker using cross streets, mile markers, landmarks, city and county names.
  • Always know your cellular phone number.
  • KNOW WHERE YOUR OLD CELL PHONES ARE…Even a cell phone without active service can be used to call 9-1-1. As long as the phone has a charged battery dialing 9-1-1 will ring through to the closest dispatch center