PARIS — People are being urged to use their home land-line telephones when calling 911 instead of cell phones, when possible, so dispatchers get the caller's identification and exact location immediately, said James P. Miclon, director of the Oxford County Regional Communications Center.
In a Monday report, he said that more than 50 percent of cell phone 911 calls go to another dispatch center and are then transferred to the Paris dispatching center.
"This is causing some confusion and misinformation, which compounds the confusion of getting the right information," Miclon said. One of the major problems with cell phone 911 calls is the address information or plotting location, he said.
In most cases, he said, cell phone calls only show tower location. This doesn't always give dispatchers actual location information, especially when they take a 911 call from a hysterical person and are unable to get necessary information with which to quickly send fire, rescue or police.
"The communications center has the latest and most up-to-date equipment, but cell phone calls — most of the time — don't give us a good location," Miclon stated.
That's why he's urging people to use hard-wired, land-line telephones when calling 911, if at all possible. That way, caller identification and location will show up on a dispatcher's mapping screen.
"Cell phones are convenient, but are not as reliable as your land-line telephone," Miclon said.
"We have wasted much time in an emergency situation just trying to figure out what town and what service to send when cell phones are used, and we either have a poor connection or bad tower location," he said.
For example, he said a person may call from one town located near multiple cell towers.
"We could have someone from West Paris showing a cell tower from South Paris, and if we are unable to understand or receive clear information from the caller, problems may occur which may cause a poor response in an emergency," Miclon said.
All land-line, hard-wired telephone 911 calls are directed to the communications center directly, with the telephone number, name of the person, address and who to send in an emergency automatically displayed on dispatchers' computer screens.
This gives all dispatchers in the room the information immediately, which enables dispatchers to start emergency services while someone is still on the telephone, Miclon said.
"I have stood in the communications center dispatch room watching and listening to my staff struggling to get caller and location information from cell phone callers," Miclon said. "All staff of the Oxford County Regional Communications Center take their jobs very seriously, and it pains them to have missed or received poor information when taking an emergency 911 call," he added.