Can I call 9-1-1 from my cell phone?
Yes, but it does not work as well as your home or business phone. When you dial 9-1-1 from a cellular phone, you will be connected to a 9-1-1 center, but it might be the wrong one, especially if you are near the border of two cities or counties. Be prepared to give your location and the City or County if needed. You may get a dispatcher in a bordering County and they may not recognize the street name you give them.
The Future of wireless phones & 9-1-1
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that wireless telephones must begin providing 9-1-1 service similar to wired phones. More and more people are using wireless phones and this will ensure they can access emergency services using their wireless phones.
Phase I – Wireless phones must provide the tower address that is receiving their signal and the phone number to the 9-1-1 center. This will help us narrow down where you are if you are not sure. We can also try to call you back if the connection is lost. This is a big improvement over the original situation.
Phase II – Wireless phones must provide a location within 125 meters 67% of the time. This will be a great improvement and will bring wireless telephones up to a comparable standard with wired phones. Unfortunately, though Phase II is now implemented in Lapeer County, not all cell phones are capable of utilizing this service. Many people have cell phones that pre-date the requirements of Phase II. In those instances, Phase I should still work. Regardless of Phase I or II, the dispatcher will always verify your location with you.
9-1-1 centers will have computerized maps to display the location of a wireless caller. Your latitude and longitude will be your “virtual address” when dialing 9-1-1 from a wireless phone.
Is my location known when I call 9-1-1?
NO! That is the big problem with cellular phones today, the 9-1-1 dispatcher does not know where you are. We often receive calls from neighboring counties and we try to transfer these calls to the correct 9-1-1 center. We now have Phase I & Phase II service from most wireless carriers so we are able to have a good idea where you are. The Phase II will attempt to pin-point your location on a map for the dispatcher. This lets us get closer to your possible location. Cell phones provide very little, if any, information about you or your location. If you can not describe where you are, we can not send help! Another problem is multiple calls about a single incident. A wreck at a major intersection can easily generate 15 calls to 9-1-1!