My grandpa was born on Flag Day 90 years ago. Yesterday was his birthday. I wasn't able to make it to the U.P. so I was asked to compile a bunch of photos into a video to show at the party. There are some pretty cool old pictures in the beginning of the video, some neat post-war shots of him and my grandma, and some photos of him singing barbershop that I particularly enjoy. It's lengthy, and most of it won't mean much to you, but I thought I'd share.
I was watching an infomercial last night extolling the benefits of elderly citizens having a pre-paid cell phone. It went on to describe the vast capabilities all cell phones have of providing pin-point accurate location information to responders in the event of an emergency. While this is true in some cases, I can tell you that in MOST situations it is not the case. Infomercials exaggerate and salesmen lie. Read on for a bit of truth on the matter. You'll be glad you did if you ever have to dial 9-1-1.
Often times I receive "open-line" calls where I can hear that someone has a legitimate emergency, but there is nobody on the line. Someone has dialed 9-1-1 but is unwilling or unable to speak. Use your imagination to come up with a situation where you might have to do that and chances are I've taken that call. I will always keep the call active as long as possible to try to get location information for the cell phone from the network. Sometimes the call gets disconnected, though. If it is a pre-paid phone, I usually am not able to ring the phone back if I get disconnected. If I cant get location information from the cell phone while the call is active, the best chance I have of figuring out where this person is is to call the cellular provider and hope the caller kept them updated with a good address AND hope that's where they are actually calling from if the company has an address on file. If it's a standard cell phone will billed service, I will definitely be able to get the subscriber's address, but I still have to hope that the person is actually calling from home. I can't begin to describe to you the frustration I experience when we have to give up on a call, knowing there is a problem, because we have exhausted all resources and are unable to determine where the person is calling from.
THE ONLY SUREFIRE WAY TO MAKE SURE I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE CALLING FROM IS FOR YOU TO CALL FROM A LAND-LINE TELEPHONE!(I realize this isn't always possible and I'm obviously not saying that there is no place in public safety for cell phones.)
I may be a little biased because the 9-1-1 service fee on my your land line also pays my salary, but that's not the reason I'm keeping a land line active in my home.
Please enjoy this informational, albeit lengthy, reading from the FCC regarding wireless capabilities:
(Note: Most of the calls I receive are Phase I E911...check out the details on what's available for location information. Even Phase II E911 information may only be accurate within 300 meters. That's over 3 football fields. That makes for a lot of potential houses and buildings to check in an area with a large population. Also, make sure to read the chunks at the end about 9-1-1 calling tips.)
Wireless 911 Services FCC
The number of 911 calls placed by people using wireless phones has significantly increased in recent years. It is estimated that about 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones, and that percentage is growing.
For many Americans, the ability to call 911 for help in an emergency is one of the main reasons they own a wireless phone. Other wireless 911 calls come from “Good Samaritans” reporting traffic accidents, crimes or other emergencies. The prompt delivery of wireless 911 calls to public safety organizations benefits the public by promoting safety of life and property.
Unique Challenges Posed by Wireless Phones
While wireless phones can be an important public safety tool, they also create unique challenges for emergency response personnel and wireless service providers. Since wireless phones are mobile, they are not associated with one fixed location or address. While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller’s location, that information is not usually specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly.
The FCC’s Wireless 911 Rules
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules aimed at improving the reliability of wireless 911 services and the accuracy of the location information transmitted with a wireless 911 call, as part of our efforts to improve public safety. Such improvements enable emergency response personnel to ensure that Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) receive meaningful, accurate location information from wireless 911 callers in order to dispatch local emergency responders to the correct location and to provide assistance to 911 callers more quickly.
The FCC’s wireless 911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service (PCS) licensees, and certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees. Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) providers, however, are currently excluded.
Basic 911 rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to a PSAP, regardless of whether the caller subscribes to the provider’s service or not.
Phase I Enhanced 911 (E911) rules require wireless service providers to provide the PSAP with the telephone number of the originator of a wireless 911 call and the location of the cell site or base station transmitting the call.
Phase II E911 rules require wireless service providers to provide more precise location information to PSAPs; specifically, the latitude and longitude of the caller. This information must be accurate to within 50 to 300 meters depending upon the type of location technology used.
The FCC recently required wireless carriers to provide more precise location information to PSAPs. As a result, wireless carriers will be required to comply with the FCC’s location accuracy rules at either a county-based or PSAP-based geographic level. The new standards apply to outdoor measurements only, as indoor use poses unique obstacles.
Tips for Consumers
As stated above, a wireless service provider may not be able to accurately and automatically determine a 911 caller’s location. As a result, when replacing your handset, you should always ask about the new handset's E911 capabilities. Some providers may offer incentives to encourage customers without location-capable phones to obtain new, location-capable phones. For example, they may offer location-capable handsets at a discount.
Some providers may choose to prevent reactivation of older handsets that do not have E911 capability, or they may adopt various other measures.
If a provider declines to reactivate a handset that is not location-capable, the FCC still requires the provider to deliver a 911 call from that handset to the appropriate PSAP.
Tips for 911 Calling
Consumers making a 911 call from a wireless phone should remember the following:
-Tell the emergency operator the location of the emergency right away.
-Provide the emergency operator with your wireless phone number, so if the call gets disconnected, the emergency operator can call you back.
-PSAPs currently lack the technical capability to receive texts, photos, and videos.
-If your wireless phone is not “initialized” (meaning you do not have a contract for service with a wireless service provider), and your emergency call gets disconnected, you must call the emergency operator back because the operator does not have your telephone number and cannot contact you.
-To help public safety personnel allocate emergency resources, learn and use the designated number in your state for highway accidents or other non life-threatening incidents. States often reserve specific numbers for these types of incidents. For example, “#77” is the number used for highway accidents in Virginia.
-Refrain from programming your phone to automatically dial 911 when one button, such as the “9” key, is pressed.
Unintentional wireless 911 calls, which often occur when auto-dial keys are inadvertently pressed, cause problems for emergency call centers.
-If your wireless phone came pre-programmed with the auto-dial 911 feature already turned on, turn this feature off. Consult your user manual for instructions.
-Lock your keypad when you’re not using your wireless phone. This action prevents accidental calls to 911.
-Consider creating a contact in your wireless phone’s memory with the name “ICE” (in Case of Emergency), which lists the phone numbers of people you want to have notified in an emergency.
-I started making cheese at home...interesting process. I've made mozzarella and I'm aging a Colby now. Curious? Ask away.
-I started taking Accutane (Claravis, actually, but it's the same thing...) about a month ago. We'll see how this goes. It has some potentially nasty side effects. This is kind of a last ditch effort to clear my skin up. It has helped a great deal with the swelling, pain, and headaches. Kendra's been helping me with the diet that's necessary to be on Accutane, and there's been some good results from that as well. Questions? Although it's not a topic I usually like to talk about, I brought it up, so go ahead and ask.
-My job is going really well. I can actually enjoy it now that I feel more settled in. I'm amazed daily at the silly things I get asked, the scary situations I find myself a part of, and the incredibly tense few moments that interrupt hours of mundane and routine. If you're going to ask about the funniest/craziest/scariest call I've ever taken, just know that I've taken every call you've ever heard or read about, most of them several times, and they're not funny/crazy/scary to me any more. The things I find funny and scary can be really upsetting and disturbing to some people. Ask with caution.
-My daughter Nola is the most amazing little thing I think I've ever known. I just deleted a hugely (is that a word?) long paragraph I had typed about all the incredible things she does to make me laugh, cry, smile, gasp, hope, and wonder at. Wanna know what they were? Inquire as you will. I don't talk about her enough.
-I'm finding that I really enjoy do-it-yourself-ing. I've had lots of opportunities to help people with their projects because of moves, remodels, etc. I have plenty of my own, and I'm starting to get the hang of a few things with some help from others that do it better than I do. Lots of things done, lots more to do. Can I help you with something?
-I get to go back to work at camp this summer! So excited! The catch? The spot that opened up that allows me to go is "dining hall manager". Not sure it's really a catch, it's just a new hat for me. I'm a little anxious about it. Whadya wanna know? Actually...I may need to ask some of you about this one.
I usually don't like the "ask me a question" kinds of posts...but maybe this will get me back on Pleo for more than just lurking. Hit me with your best shot on these or other topics!
Male 9-1-1 Caller, at 4am-ish: I have a mouse in my apartment!
Operator (not me): You have a...what in your apartment?
Caller: A MOUSE!
Operator: Sir, an officer isn't going to get a mouse out of your apartment for you.
Caller: Well that's why I called you, what am I supposed to do?
Operator: An officer can't get a mouse out of your apartment at 4am...or any time of day for that matter.
Caller: Well, who will?
Operator: You can call an exterminator service...but they won't do it at 4am either.
Caller: What am I supposed to do, then?
Operator: Go to WalMart or Meijer, buy some mouse traps, set them, and wait for them to do their thing. Other than that, you're going to have to deal with the mouse for the evening.
I'm convinced that calls like this are a product of the industry's own efforts. The federal government, telephone companies, and your local public service agencies spent the better part of 30 years telling you to call 9-1-1 for anything you perceive to be an emergency. I think we've gotten to the point where everyone knows WHAT NUMBER to dial. I think it's time the start educating the public on what constitutes an emergency.
(Personally, I would have used the "masculine-adult-male" response again... See below...)
"So what do I do with the deer?"
"Well sir, are you a masculine adult male?"
"Then get out of your car, grab one of it's legs and drag it out of the road."
I sometimes rather enjoy the gentle cynicism and quiet frustration that begins brewing near the end of the shift at work. It results in several of these gems each evening. I should start writing them down.