911 System Not Cell-Ready
When you think 911, you think fast emergency service, but it depends on where you are calling from. The more cell phones, the more problems for Missouri's 911 system.
There's a greater than 2 out of 3 chance that emergency responders can not find you if you are calling 911 from a cell phone in Missouri. Emergency responders throughout the state say response time is hindered significantly for those calling in on a cell phone.
"Those cell phones that are calling in, we are not able to track by either telephone number or location and where they're at," said Kevin Bond, Pettis County sheriff.
Counties across the state are at different levels of technology phases when it comes to reading cell phone information. Most counties are at phase zero, meaning emergency services don't know anything about the caller. Only a few are at phase one, which only sends the telephone number. Phase two sends the number and a broad location.
Emergency 911 centers are struggling with updates because operators say there isn't' enough money.
"Most counties are real tight on money, so they can barely handle the land line system as it exists. So, when you come along with cell phones and you need more equipment, they don't have the money," said Claude Brandon, 911 coordinator.
A big part of the 911 service funding comes from land line phone taxes, and fewer people are using that service because of cell phones. Voters across the state rejected a bill twice that would charge a similar fee with cell phone service.
For more surprising facts about Missouri's 911 system, click on the story links above. The first will guide you to talking points from the Missouri 911 Infrastructure Assessment. The assessment, provided by the National Emergency Number Association, brings to light specific problems with Missouri's system and possible solutions.