Tax May Update Emergency System

1 decade 10 months 1 week ago Wednesday, August 15 2007 Aug 15, 2007 Wednesday, August 15, 2007 9:26:03 AM CDT August 15, 2007 in News

Joy McGuire answers about 500 emergency phone calls a week. Almost 60 percent of the calls come from cell phones, but the Howard County Central Dispatch doesn't have a way to find cell phone callers. McGuire relies on descriptions from callers to determine where they are.

"I think the best one we ever had was from someone who said he was on a paved road with yellow lines," she said.

McGuire wants better 911 technology, and so does the federal government, which is making it mandatory for Missouri to bring in better cell phone locating systems like GPS.

Right now, when you call 911 from your cell phone, the call goes to any cell phone tower that picks it up, and it'll send you to the 911 dispatcher.

That may not, however, be the closest dispatcher to you in your emergency, which slows down ambulance and police response.

The federal government won't help with the cost of upgrading 911 systems. It's a problem for Howard County.

"We rely a lot on federal government grants, and there aren't a lot of them out there," said Becky Bishop, interim director of Howard County Dispatch.

Bishop thinks it's worth the spare change.

"I know it's more money, but everyone carries a cell phone for safety reasons, so why not make it as safe as possible," Bishop asked. "You hear of all these people who get caught in a snow drift or fall over in an accident and they're down off the side of the road and nobody can see them. All they have is their cell phone but they can't talk. This would help you be able to pin-point them."

Missouri is one of the only states that doesn't tax for cell phone calls to 911. State Representative Therese Sander (R-Moberly) is having a public meeting to talk about the tax or other funding options on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. at Moberly City Hall. Anyone who wishes to testify at the meeting can call Rep. Sander at 660-263-7156 or 573-751-6566.

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