Pinpointing 911 Calls from Cell Phones
PASCO, Wash. - If you live in Yakima, Ellensburg, or the Tri-Cities, chances are if you call 911 from a cell phone, dispatchers can pinpoint where you are. However, many counties across the country can't.
When someone in Washington uses a cell phone to call 911 for help, the state didn't want to leave this experience up to chance. Depending on the quality of your phone and your service provider, dispatchers here can pinpoint your location within 100 meters.
Your cell phone blips right up on the screen. But many counties nationwide don't have the capability.
One reason Washington counties can track you down is voters decided in the early 1990's to help financially back the equipment necessary to keep these centers up to speed.
"Locating people when they're in need of help is the number one priority. It's where everything starts. When someone needs help, we're the starting point," said Steve Reinke, Washington State E911 Advisory Committee.
Now dispatchers can't pinpoint everyone with the same accuracy. The rule of them is if you have a phone three years old or newer, and you get service here, chances are they can pinpoint your area.