Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Than 25-years Since Cell Phones Introduced - 911 Still Not Ready

What would you think if you dialed 911 and was on hold for 7 minutes? I would think 911 was a waste of time. What would you think of an emergency communication system that - after 25 years - still can't handle an incredibly important communication medium. I would wonder how serious people are about solving the problems. Atlanta 911 center comes under fire | ajc.com
• Atlanta aims to answer 911 calls within 10 seconds. But on May 9, its 911 center kept city officials believe was the first caller about the Dollar Mill Road fire on hold for seven minutes before that person finally hung up.

• Less than a minute after the first caller hung up, a city 911 operator picked up a call about the fire from a Cobb County operator. City officials say it’s possible a glitch in their 911 system routed the call to Cobb or that a cellphone tower bounced the call. Dollar Mill Road sits a short distance from the county line.
A whole lot of bad things can happen in 7 minutes. Add to that the 5 minutes and some seconds it took the fire department to respond and the house - this was a house fire - was a total loss.

And while this was fire emergency, it could have been a medical or police emergency. The moral of the story? Learn CPR, first aid, try to have a plan for your personal safety and keep a lot fire extinguishers on hand because you can't count on 911.

On the subject of cell phones. I read about cell phone and 911 problems on a regular basis. Usually I say nothing, because what can you say? As far as I can tell, every cell phone sold in the USA today (since 2005?) transmits GPS info with a 911 call. So how many years will it take for cities to make use of this? As someone said...
“This is Atlanta, Georgia. This is not some backwoods town in nowhere, USA,” said Martin, an attorney, who lives in College Park but had planned to move with her husband into the house on Dollar Mill Road. “There is absolutely no excuse for it.”
But that is what you get from bureaucracy; why should they change? After all, they won't lose their jobs for simply doing the same old thing.

Historical Note: Cell phones were introduced in the US in 1983. Government still says - not here but in other places - that you can't expect them to be able to handle this new-fangled gadgetry.

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