Know Your Location When Calling 9-1-1
In a nutshell….
In addition to specific township names, the location identifiers that 911 personnel need most are:
1. house address numbers
2. street names
3. intersecting street names
4. beach access names and/or ramp numbers
The trouble with landlines….
It’s a common misconception that calls to 911 automatically generate an accurate GPS signal pinpointing the caller’s location. While that may be true for many conventional landlines, hotel switchboards or rental homes utilizing Voice Over Internet Providers (VoIP) will transmit whatever location was entered by the owner or subscriber of that service. So, while the phones may look like they are using traditional landline technology, they may erroneously transmit your location to be many miles away.
And the trouble with cellphones…
Since wireless phones are mobile, they are not associated with one fixed location or address. While the location of the cell site closest to the 911 caller may provide a general indication of the caller’s location, that information is not usually specific enough for rescue personnel to deliver assistance to the caller quickly. Depending on cell tower obstructions or the strength of a cell carrier’s signal, the GPS information my reflect a different area of the beach.
Travelers should familiarize themselves with some basic geographical knowledge at the beginning of their vacation. Beth Edens at Dare County’s 911 center explains how easy it is for travelers to confuse the bridges on the Outer Banks, “once they’ve crossed the Wright Memorial Bridge, tourists tend to call that whole beach ‘Nags Head’ and then once they cross the Oregon Inlet Bridge they call that whole area, ‘Hatteras.’ In fact, the same long stretch of beach is divided into several different towns with different names. She also states, “there are a lot of street names with the word ‘Dogwood’ or ‘Harbor’ and knowing that a renter is at the ‘Salty Air’ cottage from the XYC rental company does not help us at all.”