Claremore Daily Progress

December 6, 2013

E911 Trust addresses emergency call issues

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter


The Rogers County E911 Trust Authority discussed Thursday recent issues with cell phone emergency calls.
Two cell phone callers, who dialed 911 recently, were routed outside Rogers County to dispatch centers in Collinsville and Nowata.
The calls were emergency medical calls, one of which resulted in the loss of a life.
The location of cell towers in rural Rogers County and the cellular network is designed to route calls to the closest facility, according to E911 Director Janet Hamilton.
The call, which resulted in a death, the caller was asked to call the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office main 10-digit number 27 minutes after dialing 911, according to Hamilton.
The neighboring agencies were not able to locate the 911 caller and once the call was transferred, the information was lost, according to Hamilton.
“Wouldn’t it be the best to promote the local 10-digit number for emergencies,” Northwest Fire Chief David Puckett said.
“Our primary goal is public safety,” Hamilton said.
It is important for people to have a backup number in their cell phones. In an emergency, cell phone users need to know their local agency number, according to Puckett.
For example, if you live or travel in rural Talala near the Washington County line or Nowata, you would want to let the dispatcher know you need OTEMS or the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office to help, according to the discussion.
The trustees agree that educating the public about the issue should be a priority.
They understand it can be confusing for the public, giving the mobile technology; but, it is critical to know which local fire, EMS, police agencies serve your area.
In addition to launching an effort to educate the public about the use of cell phones to dial 911, Puckett requested the protocol of the 911 Center be modified. 
Puckett wanted to insure medical service be dispatched first in an emergency.
Hamilton agreed this was an issue to be addressed.
“Proper hand off is vital,” said Kelly Deal, OTEMS director.
“We are not trying to scare anyone, we just want to educate the public so they are prepared,” Puckett said.
Given the projected weather events, people should take a minute to add the numbers for their local agency into their cell phone, the board advised.
Just because these issues have occurred, it does not mean every 911 call from a cell phone will be sent outside Rogers County, according to Hamilton.
It is just important for callers to be prepared, according to Puckett.
The main number for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office is (918) 341-3535.