There are a couple of common misunderstandings about how much information cell phones provide 9-1-1 when they are used:
When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, there is no guarantee that your call will go to the intended 9-1-1 call center, especially along the Columbia River corridor.
Cell phone calls are sent through a cell phone tower – usually one that is in close proximity to your location. The 9-1-1 center your call is routed to is based on the location of that cell phone tower.
If that cell phone tower is busy, your call may be routed through other cell towers. In Clark County if you call from near or around the Columbia River, you call may be routed to Multnomah or Columbia counties.
A 9-1-1 call taker will generally always ask you for your location to confirm where you are so that we know how to get you the best and quickest help. Since many addresses involve streets that can also exist in nearby counties, ALWAYS give your city in addition to your street address.
Even if your cell phone has geo-location services enabled, 9-1-1 dispatchers do not always receive exact address information from cell phone callers.
Location information received by a 9-1-1 center from a cell phone can range in accuracy so do not assume the call taker can find you through your cell phone’s GPS. Generally, the 9-1-1 calls are routed correctly, however cell phone calls are transferred to other 9-1-1 centers every day.
Two basic reminders….
- Know your location when you call 9-1-1
- If you call from a cell phone, give your street address AND your city.
CRESA also has “Know Your Location” posters that can be requested by agencies who wish to more prominently display location-based information for callers to 9-1-1.
All school districts have received these posters and we encourage businesses, assisted living facilities and other larger residential locations to post their address visibly so that it can be seen by people who may need to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.