What to know when making a 911 call from a cellphone

DENVER -- Many people are ditching their landlines and just using their cellphones at home. There are some things to keep in mind if you have an emergency, regardless of where you are located.

Emergency response experts tell the FOX31 Problem Solvers that these days, as much as 70 percent of 911 calls come from cellphones. Your safety can depend on whether you know what to say when dispatchers answer.

Jefferson County Dispatch Operations Manager Jodi Malpass explains that the overall process for handling cellphone calls is tailored to provide the fastest response time and best care. Anyone using a cellphone to contact 911 while in a moving car should realize that they are moving between cellphone towers, so very brief transfers may be necessary.

"Most of them hit a cell tower and then they have to be transferred. We really want you to get to your call center that can actually help you," said Malpass.

Malpass says if you have a health emergency while driving, stop as soon as you can and call 911.

"It is best for you to pull over and wait for help so you are stationary," Malpass said.

Police tell the Problem Solvers if you’re on the highway and you see a drunk or aggressive driver, call *CSP so the Colorado State Patrol can handle the issue. Provide a license plate number and vehicle description but never follow a suspected offender.

When using a cellphone at home to contact 911, it is extremely important that you provide the dispatcher with your name, address and (if it applies) apartment number immediately.

"(A cellphone) doesn’t necessarily give us your address,  it gives us a 50- to 100-meter radius or a latitude or longitude," Malpass said.

Landlines can provide dispatchers with more accurate location information.

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