Hold the Phone: Landlines Superior To Cell Phones When Calling 911
Despite the convenience and widespread use of today's cellular phones, these technological marvels are no match for traditional "landline" telephones when calling for emergency fire or medical service, Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District officials report.
"An increasing number of residential phone customers across the country are turning to cell phones as their traditional ‘home' telephone, but the reality is that landlines enable a much quicker response from emergency crews," Fire Chief Jim Arie says.
Spotty coverage and poor reception in certain geographical locations, and call volumes that may, at times, overwhelm transmitter stations are just a few potential problems that illustrate the drawbacks District residents may encounter when using a cell phone to request emergency services.
Perhaps most importantly, 911 calls placed by cell phone are typically directed to the closest transmitter tower, then relayed to the emergency dispatch center nearest to where the call is placed – not necessarily to one's community fire or police departments. This may create an added delay in transferring the call to the appropriate destination.
For example, Deputy Fire Chief John Feit once dialed 911 from his cell phone while out in the field in an effort to see where the call would be received.
"I was surprised to learn that I had been connected to a dispatch center in Mundelein ," he recalls.
In contrast, emergency calls placed by traditional landline telephones directly connect District residents to Barrington 's enhanced 911 system. The system gives dispatchers the exact street address where a call originated and allows them to immediately send fire and medical crews there.
"Even if the person who dialed 911 is incapacitated or unable to speak, the enhanced 911 system tells us where we need to go," Chief Arie adds.
Chief Arie urges residents who prefer the mobility and convenience of a cell phone to at least maintain a local service landline at home.
"The technology is improving but, compared to a landline, cell phone users remain at a clear disadvantage when dialing 911," he adds.
District residents interested in learning more may contact the Fire Department at 847-304-3600.
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