What about 9-1-1 and cell phones?
WIRELESS 9-1-1 INFORMATION GUIDE: HOW TO USE YOUR CELL PHONE TO CALL 9-1-1

What is Wireless 9-1-1?

Wireless 9-1-1 is the term used to refer to emergency calls made to 9-1-1 for wireless cellular phones.

A cellular (cell) phone is actually a radio transmitter and a receiver that uses radio frequencies or channels, instead of a traditional telephone wire, to connect callers. Because cell phones are very portable, they are not associated with one fixed location or address. The cell tower (cell site) used to transmit a cellular 9-1-1 call provides only a general location of the cellular caller. This location information is not specific enough for public safety personnel to respond in a timely manner.

For many, the ability to call 9-1-1 for help in an emergency is one of the main reasons they own a cellular phone. Other cellular 9-1-1 calls come from "good Samaritans" reporting traffic collisions, criminal activity or other emergencies.

While cell phones can be an important public safety tool, they also create unique challenges for public safety, emergency response personnel and wireless service providers because of their mobility.

To expedite the processing of cellular 9-1-1 calls by public safety dispatchers, you should remember the following:

* Immediately advise the dispatcher of the location of the emergency, including the city-if known. If you are not sure of the location, look for helpful markers such as street signs, local landmarks, or freeway exits that will help the dispatcher pinpoint your location.

* Provide the dispatcher with your cell phone number so that if the call is disconnected, the dispatcher can call you back. If you do not know your cell phone number, memorize it.

* Remain calm and be prepared to provide specific answers to questions asked by the dispatcher related to the emergency you are reporting (i.e., where, what, when, who, weapons, injuries, medical history). DO NOT HANG UP until the dispatcher instructs you to do so.

* If your cell phone is not "initialized" (i.e., you do not currently have a contract for service with a wireless service provider) and your call is disconnected, you must call the dispatcher back because they will not have your phone number to call you back.

* Become familiar with features of your cell phone, especially the "keypad lock" feature, which prevents accidental dialing. Many 9-1-1 calls made to the La Mesa Police Department are the result of accidental dialing. The processing of accidental calls may delay help for those callers with true emergencies.

* The accidental calling of cell phones can occur when a cell phone is carried carelessly in pockets, purses, strollers, waistbands and gym bags without activating the "keypad lock" feature.

* Refrain from programming your cell phone to automatically dial 9-1-1 to prevent accidental dialing. Please consult your cell phone's user manual for further information on this and other phone features.

* Using your phone while driving can be very dangerous. Whenever possible and it is safe to do so, pull over and park your vehicle before using your cell phone.

* Cellular calls made to 9-1-1 have helped to save many lives. In part, this is due to callers taking the time to get involved and report emergencies. However, the La Mesa Police Department cautions you not to place yourself in harms way when reporting crimes in progress and other dangerous situations.

* Tips for Cell Phone Users

When calling 9-1-1 from your cell phone, be prepared to state the location of your emergency, your cell phone number and the nature of your emergency. This information is essential to providing emergency help and is vital in the event of phone signal interference or premature disconnection.

Wireless 9-1-1 is an important safety tool. However, if you do not know your location, public safety personnel will be delayed in providing assistance. Every second counts in an emergency.

The following instances are examples of when it is most appropriate to call 9-1-1 from your cell phone:

* Life threatening medical emergency
* Crimes in progress
* Reckless or suspected drunk driver
* Traffic collision with injuries
* Any type of fire (vehicle, structure, etc.)
* Traffic hazard blocking the roadway

The La Mesa Police Department encourages the use of non-emergency phone numbers to contact the fire and police departments for general information and routine requests.

Cell Phone Users Brochure

Show All Answers

1. What happens when I call 9-1-1?
2. What do I say when I call 9-1-1?
3. What if I dial 9-1-1 by mistake?
4. What about 9-1-1 and cell phones?