Monday, January 31, 2011

70 percent of KC 911 calls now come from wireless phones

Statistics are in from our Communications Center for 2010, and they’re pretty impressive. We handled a total of 892,283 calls, of which 576,257 were 911 calls (the rest were non-emergency calls and transfers to other department elements or other outside agencies). That total is a slight increase over last year, in which we handled 881,214 calls.

The numbers that really reflect the times are how many wireless 911 calls we receive compared to landline 911 calls. We started tracking this in 2008. That year, 60 percent of all our 911 calls came from wireless phones. That increased to 65.6 percent in 2009, and in 2010 the number was 70.5 percent.

In just two years, the percentage of 911 callers using cell phones has climbed by 10 percentage points. That’s a pretty remarkable change in a short amount of time, and it requires more of 911 callers. With landlines, dispatchers can trace where calls are coming from. Cell phones can’t pinpoint locations with the same precision. That’s why the Mid-America Regional Council makes these suggestions about calling 911 from a cell phone:

“It is very important that you provide as much information as possible to the dispatcher. This includes:

• Your wireless phone number
• Your exact location
• The name of the road you are traveling on, direction you are headed and any physical landmarks
• How many miles you are from the nearest town or the nearest cross street.

Technology in use in the Kansas City region allows dispatchers to receive the phone number and approximate location from where the wireless 9-1-1 call originated. But it is still important to know your exact location in the event of an emergency. Make it a habit to note mile markers and other road signs that would help you identify where you are should you need to call 9-1-1.”

More information about calling 911 is available on MARC’s web site.

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