FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – State Rep. J.P. Sredzinski (R-Monroe), a public dispatch supervisor, understands firsthand the challenges of fielding misdirected 911 emergency calls from cellphone users.
“We can’t help you if we can’t find you,” Sredzinski, who was recently named the state’s top House Republican on the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, said in a release. “There’s nothing more frustrating than when someone is having a medical emergency and they cannot tell you where they are.”
To help make it easier for 911 dispatchers to pinpoint the exact locations of callers from mobile phones so first responders can arrive at the scene more quickly, Sredzinski recently submitted legislation that requires 911 calls to be routed to the nearest public safety answering point – a staffed 24-hour emergency call center.
Currently, while dispatchers can find someone’s location when they call 911 from a landline phone, it is much more difficult to find someone when they call from a mobile phone.
According to the Federal Communications Commission’s website, about 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones, and that number is growing. Mobile phones are not associated with a fixed location like a landline phone.
“We live in a society where a smartphone app like Uber knows exactly where you are, but not 911 dispatchers. The 911 dispatch that you reach depends on the phone you have, the tower you hit, and the provider you have.”
Sredzinski said that the technology exists, but that needs to be available for public safety dispatchers to use.