Saving Lives With E911

Wednesday, March 28th 2007, 9:31 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County expects to have its Enhanced 911 wireless service up and running by this fall. By using a global positioning system, E911 is able to pinpoint where cell phone calls are coming from. The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports one east Oklahoma county is already using the system to save lives.

Mayes County has used Enhanced 911 for nearly a year now. First responders in Mayes County say the ability to immediately locate a cell phone caller has made all the difference. Now, when people call from cell phones, the system provides dispatchers with the caller's name and location.

"As soon as they call we are able to locate them within seconds, we are able to know if they are still close to the scene," said Brendan Hawkins with Mayes County 911.

Mayes County says being able to instantly locate a cell phone user is crucial, especially because as many as 70% of 911 callers in Mayes County now use cell phones. Before the system was installed 911 operators had to spend valuable time figuring out where a caller was; now they no longer have to do that.

"Several different agencies or departments would have to go several different directions to try to find people who were needing medical care," said Paramedic Supervisor Stephen Vanhorn.

Also, with several major highways running through Mayes County first responders say they often deal with callers who are not from the area, and are confused about their location.

"It helps out a little with people's panic state because a lot of people out of town are lost, not sure where they're at, so we're able to help them out in that sense," Hawkins said.

And while it has only been in use for a year, Mayes County says E911 has saved a number of lives.

"Absolutely, countless already in the time it's been on there," said Vanhorn.

All Mayes County ambulances are also equipped with GPS. So once dispatch gives them an address, paramedics can instantly find that location on a map.