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.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

UPDATE: body of missing man located

Jerret Snow was last seen May 19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

28 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Most Read