Reality Check: Tulsa County's E-911 System

Tuesday, September 8th 2009, 9:33 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa County is set to debut its Enhanced 911 service.  The system allows dispatchers to pinpoint the location of calls made from cell phones.  Other Oklahoma counties already have it, but it has taken Tulsa four years to get E-911 up and running.

Authorities say this system saves lives, and if it had been in place this past weekend, they say it may have done just that.

Amanda Stone frantically called 911 after a pickup truck she was in ran off the road, jumped a barrier, and plunged 150 feet to the bottom of a north Tulsa quarry early Saturday morning.  It would take authorities two hours to find the wreck.

The three other passengers died, but when the call was placed to a Tulsa Police Department dispatcher, one of the male victims was still alive.

The dispatcher told him he needed to figure out where he was.

"If we had had the technology in place, we might have gotten into the area sooner, and can't say the outcome would have been any different. We'll never know," said EMSA Communications supervisor Chad Moser.

EMSA Communications Supervisor Chad Moser says more than half of 911 calls now come from cell phones.  Until Enhanced 911 is up and running, there is only so much dispatchers can do.

"Our primary goal is to get people the help that they need as soon as, as quickly as we can," said EMSA Communications supervisor Chad Moser.

With E-911, they hope their days of guessing when lives are on the line will soon be over.

AT&T is in Tulsa conducting E-911 tests this week.  Officials say their customers should be able to use the service by Friday, and other carriers will follow suit in the coming weeks.