Posted by billalbertson
Hi Officer Michelle,
My wife and I are considering ditching our under-utilized land line and just using our cell phones.
What number should be called in the event of a 911 emergency at our residence, would this be the same number for fire and ambulance, and is there any additional information that we can register with the city that might not be available to the dispatchers if we have to use a line other than 911?
Are there any other considerations that we may not be aware of in dropping our land line service and migrating to just cell phones?
A lot of people are giving up their landline phones at home to exclusively use cell phones. In considering this option too, you bring up some good questions.
As it pertains to calling 9-1-1, we adhere to the California State Government Code which declares that 9-1-1 is the primary emergency telephone number for use in this state, regardless of the type of phone used. Therefore in the event of a major emergency of any kind, (Fire, Medical, Police) you should dial 9-1-1. The dispatcher answering the 9-1-1 will ensure the caller gets to the appropriate emergency response entity. There is no need for the registration of any additional information with regards to your cell phone.
What you should be aware of, though, is that cellular 9-1-1 calls go directly to the CHP who then transfer the calls to the appropriate emergency service provider if the problem doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction. Depending on how busy they are, this can cause some delays. 911 calls from your landline go directly to your appropriate emergency services.
Other considerations you might want to think about before making a switch to cell phones only, are that we currently have a “reverse 911” system that works by calling residents on their landlines region-wide to notify them of a large scale emergency. This system is not operational with cell phones. In addition, during large emergencies, many people are using their phones, landline and cell. Even though both systems can become swamped, landline technology tends to be somewhat more robust in enabling callers to use their phones during those circumstances. There is also a feature on landlines, not available on cell phones, to let you stay on the line in a queue until you get a dial tone.
And finally, many people are not aware that their phone number and address appears on the emergency communications (dispatch) center screens when we call 9-1-1. This is how the dispatcher knows the phone number and location you’re calling from, and can send help without you having to provide the information verbally. Although this capability is being worked on, this service does not currently exist with cell phones in the Sacramento area.
While I’m not advocating for you to decide one way or another, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that minutes can count in an emergency. If you do decide to keep your landline, another recommendation for emergencies is to keep a non-electronic phone handy to plug into your phone jack at home (like the ones we used in the past) for emergencies that involve power outages. These phones do not need electricity to operate and are available at various retailers.
Thanks for writing in with a very good question.