E-Comm 911 call taker Madison Sheane says knowing your building or home address, the streets or landmarks you are near and your compass directions helps her ensure you get the help you need as quickly as possible. (E-Comm 911 photo/Submitted)

74% of 911 calls are from cellphones, so know your location: E-Comm

Cell tower triangulation generally only narrows location down to the block someone is calling from

“We’re behind the coffee shop downtown.”

That’s not how you would describe your location to a taxi or delivery driver, goes the “Know Your Location” campaign from E-Comm 911. But it is the way a woman described her location to a 911 call taker after a gas explosion.

“If we can’t find you, we can’t help you,” the campaign radio ads ends.

Knowing your location is even more important when calling 911 from a cellphone, the dispatch service provider said in a release on Dec. 9.

Nearly three-quarters of 911 calls in B.C. now originate from cellphones. And while movies, social media geotagging and delivery apps that show location in real-time may make it seem like cellphones provide an exact address to 911 call takers, that is not yet the case.

“While calls from landlines give us a person’s exact whereabouts, information from cellphones is nowhere as precise,” E-Comm Director of Public Safety Initiatives Ryan Lawson said.

“Because location is determined by cell tower triangulation, it’s generally narrowed down to within a block of where someone is calling. That’s helpful, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for our staff to work with callers to find out exactly where they are so first responders can get to them as fast as possible.”

READ MORE: Talks break down between B.C.’s 911 operators, E-Comm but no job action planned

If you don’t know your exact location, 911 call taker Madison Sheane said there is other information you can provide, such as compass directions or landmarks.

“When you call 911, my job is to get you the help you need as quickly as possible,” Sheane said.

“You can help me do that faster by answering my questions, including knowing your building or home address, the streets or landmarks you are near and your compass directions.”

READ MORE: B.C. communities call for changes to ambulance response priorities

Lawson said new 911 technology being developed — the North American-wide initiative Next Generation 9-1-1 — is expected to allow for improvements in the future.

“In the coming years, we’ll see calls delivered to 911 with more precise location and additional information about the caller, the device being used and the location from which it is calling. This means call takers will spend less time trying to determine where the emergency is taking place and dispatchers will be able to make better decisions on what resources to dispatch and where,” he said.

“Until then, ‘what is your location’ will always be the first question our staff ask.”



[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MISSING TEEN: Williams Lake RCMP ask public’s help in finding Angel Emile

Emile was last seen on Windmill Crescent in Williams Lake Jan. 16

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Nuxalk College undertakes language digitization project

New tapes from over 50 years ago are set to be digitally transcribed

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Bella Coola under another winter storm warning

Freezing rain is expected by this afternoon

VIDEO: WHO says China virus not global health emergency

The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Father to B.C.’s first MLB hall-of-famer is one proud dad

Larry Walker Sr. talks baseball background and son’s base running gaffe

Most Read