Calling 9-1-1 From Your Cell Phone May Cause Delays
City/Sheriffs Recommend Using the Local Station Number for Emergencies According to Capt. Anthony LaBerge, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriffs Station
Did you know that more than 8 million people in the United States currently use a cell phone as their only phone service? Public-safety agencies report that wireless calls make up about 30 to 50 percent of all 9-1-1 calls. Until recently, when someone called 9-1-1 from a cell phone, no information appeared on the call-taker's screen even in enhanced 9-1-1 systems, and the call wasn't always routed to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to the caller's location. It could be that your emergency call made from your cell phone to 9-1-1 could end up at a remote vicinity, thus delaying help.
Local 9-1-1 systems have been implementing changes to 9-1-1 to allow for greater wireless compatibility, and upgrades are still happening now. However, there is no standardized method of implementing these changes, so wireless providers, in conjunction with local public-safety agencies, are using various setups for providing cell-phone location information.
In Los Angeles County, most 911 calls from cell phones are routed to and answered by the nearest California Highway Patrol dispatch center, then routed to the proper agency if possible. The CHP office that receives your 911 call may not have any knowledge of the area where the emergency is located. For example, a 911 call placed from a cell phone along the 14 freeway may be answered by a CHP dispatcher in Downtown L.A., or possibly a dispatcher located in Sacramento. As you might imagine, this causes delays in emergency service.
Because of this, the City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station recommend that our residents use land-based phones to call 911 when available. If a cell phone is the only means available to place an emergency call when inside the Santa Clarita Valley, you should call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's directly at (661) 255-1121. This number should only be used when:
A land-based phone is not available.
You are certain you are in an area serviced by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.
You are not reporting a traffic problem on the freeway or on the streets and highways in the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley (those areas are overseen by the CHP)
You may want to consider programming the Sheriff's station phone number (255-1121) into your cellular phone. Until our Public Safety Answering Point System technology catches up with service needs, this may be your best way to contact emergency.