Be prepared to say “help” or press “1″ after you are connected to the 9-1-1 cell phone system to talk with a dispatcher.
When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington Counties, you will be connected to a recording. The recording will play the following message:
“You have reached Clackamas (or another county’s) 9-1-1, do not hang up. For help, say “help” after the tone” You would then hear a tone and an open line sound. You should say “help” or any other word or noise to trigger your transfer to a dispatcher. The message will go on to say. “To reach a dispatcher, press 1 at any time, or say “help” at the tone.” Again, you will hear a tone, and an open line sound. You may either press “1″ or say “help” to get to a call taker.
The instructions are repeated in Spanish.
Once you hear the recording start, you may press “1″ at any time to reach a 9-1-1 call taker. You may actually press any number on your keypad, but “1″ is given as a specific instruction and to avoid caller confusion.
This recording is part of a 9-1-1 Cell Phone call filter designed to limit the amount of false cell phone calls that are received by 9-1-1 centers. Before this filter was implemented, approximately 40% of the 9-1-1 cell phone calls received by C-COM were accidental dials, primarily from callers whose phone buttons were accidentally pressed while in their pocket or purse. In 9-1-1 circles, this is sometimes referred to as the “Cell Phone Problem.”
Know where you are when you call, your cell phone is not tied to an address and many cell phones do not identify their location (via latitude/longitude) or give inaccurate locations.
When you call 9-1-1 with your cell phone, there is no guarantee that your call with go to the correct 9-1-1 center, especially in the metro area.
Cell towers are aligned in an attempt to route calls to the correct 9-1-1 center based on the signal received from the cell phone, but your cell phone may still connect with a tower that may be associated with a different 9-1-1 center.
It is very important to understand that you MUST know where you are, so if you do get routed to the incorrect 9-1-1 center the call taker will know where to transfer you to get the best and quickest help.
You could be in Clackamas County, dial 9-1-1 and get the Portland 9-1-1 system, or the Washington County 9-1-1 system, or even the Vancouver, Washington 9-1-1 system. Do not get frustrated with the call taker if they are not familiar with your location when you call, you could be talking to someone in a completely different county or state!
Generally, the 9-1-1 calls are routed correctly, however each day, dozens of cell phone calls need to be transferred to other 9-1-1 centers.
If your cell call is connected to a 9-1-1 center outside your area, the dispatchers at each center are trained to determine the location and transfer your call to the correct 9-1-1 center to get you the best help.
Question: I heard about something called “Phase II” wireless. Isn’t that supposed to give the 9-1-1 center my location?
Some cell phones do deliver latitude and longitude information when they call 9-1-1. This information is plotted on a digital map in the 9-1-1 center showing an approximate location of the caller.
Not all cell phones and cell phone companies transmit latitude and longitude information, so you should not rely on that for help. Call takers will do everything they can to help determine your location, but your cell phone may not be equipped to send the information.