MAHONING COUNTY Emergency management takes advantage of cell-phone technology

Improvements to the county system will be done in two phases.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County's Emergency Management and Communications Agency is using a federal grant to upgrade its emergency 911 system to pinpoint the location of cell-phone calls.
The county has worked with the federal government and state associations to get legislation passed to upgrade the equipment used by 911 centers to accept calls from cell-phone users to find out where they are.
Walter M. Duzzny, EMA director, said Mahoning received a $95,000 federal grant through the Association of Professional Communications Officers, based in Florida, to help implement the upgrade, which will be done in two phases.
How it works
The county's current enhanced system allows the call taker to see the caller's landline phone number and address when a call is made. This allows the call taker to immediately dispatch help even though the caller may not be able to give the location.
When 911 calls are made from a cell phone, however, the calls are routed to the closest public safety answering point, but the dispatcher doesn't receive the callback phone number or the caller's location.
Duzzny said in a press release that the grant money will be used to provide the technology to accept cell calls with a telephone number and the longitude or latitude where the call originated.
The county has completed the first phase of the upgrade, and Duzzny said phase two will be involve working with cellular carriers, telephone companies and applying for additional funding.
Statistics show that, depending on the local area, 25 percent to 60 percent of all calls to a 911 center come from cell phones. Because most centers aren't equipped to pinpoint the location of such calls, call takers must rely on the caller to give detailed information on the location of an accident or other emergency.

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