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DES News

Posted on: June 30, 2018

Emergency Services Upgrades System to Quickly Find 911 Cell Phone Callers

CENTREVILLE – The dispatchers at Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services have a new tool to locate 911 callers who have iPhones. 
“The first and most important question in every 9-1-1 call is what’s the location of your emergency, said Assistant Chief of Communications Jim Alfree. “Knowing the caller’s location is the first step to dispatching live-saving emergency responders. We always strive to provide the best possible 9-1-1 service to our residents, and we have upgraded our systems to integrate with the RapidSOS NG9-1-1 Clearinghouse, which enables us to quickly and accurately locate cell phone callers who have Apple devices.”
Alfree, who’s has had a life-long professional career in emergency services as well as being a long-time volunteer firefighter in Galena, said, “This is a big deal. We have the ability to locate a caller within a 3 to 5 foot area.” 
Imagine getting a frantic call from a hunter injured in the woods, trying to describe exactly where he is. Now rescue personnel will be able to find his exact location.
“Another example is getting a domestic violence call that hangs up,” said Alfree. “Instead of knowing it came from somewhere in downtown Centreville, we can find the exact street corner. In the case of a fire, we can locate where the caller is in a building.”
County Commissioner Mark Anderson said, “This enhancement is an important addition to one of the very best emergency service departments in the nation, made so by the quality of our county management and our quality EMS personnel and County Commissioner, Stephen Wilson, who is our liaison to the department.” 
Alfree explained that this technology has been available in Europe, and will be enabled this Fall on the new iPhones with IOS 12. Those of us with older iPhones need only to update our iPhones software this Fall to iOS 12, and we too can be located more precisely in an emergency. 
Alfree predicts that Android phone makers will follow the lead and make this service available on their devices before too long.

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