AUGUSTA (AP) – The state is alerting cell phone users that 911 has supplanted *77 as the number to dial to get help during an emergency.

U.S. Cellular already has phased out *77 and the state’s other cell phone carriers will follow suit over the next couple of weeks, Maria Jacques, database manager for the Emergency Services Communications Bureau, said Tuesday.

Cell phone users have been encouraged to dial 911 for some time now and the old *77 references have been removed from road signs and from state police cruisers.

But officials took steps to publicize the effort after someone tried to call *77 last weekend during the blizzard and couldn’t get through to the state police.

People dialing 911 will be routed directly to one of four state police communication centers, Jacques said. The next phase of Enhanced 911 will allow officials to track down the geographic location of 911 calls placed over mobile phones.

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