Obsolete 911 technology can't find you if you're on a cellphone, expert says

Take these steps to stay in touch with responders
Posted at 4:39 AM, Apr 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 07:57:04-04

BATAVIA, Ohio – Criticizing 911 technology as obsolete, John Kiskaden can explain why rescuers might not be able to find you or your car when you call 911 on a cellphone.

While the tragic death of Kyle Plush has put the Cincinnati 911 call center and police officers under scrutiny, it has also raised concern with people like Kiskaden, director for the Clermont County Communications Center.

 It could just as easily happen there – or anywhere.  

"The 911 technology is so far behind what it needs to be," Kiskaden told WCPO.  "The technology isn't conducive to the technology in the field. 911 is still a legacy phone system that depends on copper lines and towers."

That’s good if you're on a home phone, but Kiskaden says 83 percent of emergency calls come from a cellphone, which pings a nearby radio tower.

"The first thing we have is that tower location. Your cellphone knows where you're at, but I don't," Kiskaden says. "That's why the Uber driver and the pizza guy can find you, but 911 can't. The technology hasn't caught up to the smart phones in the field."

That led to Plush’s death when officers couldn’t find the 16-year-old trapped in his van outside Seven Hills School.

We're on your side with a tip that could help you during an emergency.

If you have an iPhone, go to the health app and make sure you have emergency contacts listed. If you dial 911, those contacts will receive a text with your exact location.

On an android, pressing the power key quickly three times will also alert your emergency contacts. Just get your screen up and hit the phone button on the lower left-hand side. It'll give you an option to call 911 or emergency contact once you slide it up.

Once those emergency contacts receive the ping with your exact location, they could then dial 911 with that updated location if needed.

Clermont County is upgrading its 911 system by January.