Considerations When Using 9-1-1
Craighead County, Arkansas, is home to nine municipalities - Bay, Bono, Brookland, Caraway, Cash, Egypt, Jonesboro, Lake city and Monette as well as several other small unincorporated communities. Each of the municipalities has its own political and geographical boundaries, and most have separate fire, emergency and law enforcement agencies.
These multiple political and geographical boundaries have a direct bearing on how the Jonesboro 911 system works, especially when a call to 911 is made from a cell phone. Despite the Jonesboro 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) answering calls for the entirety of Craighead County, cellular calls are often not automatically routed to the proper PSAP because the wireless signals travel beyond municipal and sometimes county boundary lines. In many cases, a 911 caller may need to be transferred to the proper agency in the area. That is why it is imperative that anyone who calls 911 from a cell phone tells the dispatch exactly where he or she is, and, if possible, what city/community the call concerns. The Jonesboro E-911 Center frequently receives calls from callers in Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett Counties and has to transfer those calls to those PSAPs for service.
For example, a person in distress on White Road in Poinsett County calls 911 from a cell phone. The cell signal is routed to the closest cell tower, which is located a short distance away - but inside Craighead County. As a result, the call is routed to a Jonesboro E-911 dispatcher, who has limited information on where the caller is since the call was made from a cell phone.
If the caller cannot provide specific location details, including the fact that they are in Poinsett County, then it is highly likely that the call could be routed to the wrong emergency response department, which means that emergency response could be delayed.
It's always important to know where you are when you call 9-1-1, even when calling from a landline that provides information to the operator. You should always be able to tell the operator exactly where you are when you call.
When calling from your cell phone, give your address with city AND the nearest intersecting street (very important for verifying the address) - example:
- I live in Monette and 123 Main Street near Highway 18
- I live south of Jonesboro at 1599 Highway 163 near County Road 422
- I'm in a car accident on Nettleton Avenue and Red Wolf Boulevard
If an address is not available, use landmarks such as billboards, mile markers, buildings, etc. to describe the location.
Also, when calling from your cell phone, your signal may travel beyond municipal boundaries, which makes stating your location even more important. When this happens, don't be alarmed if the operator transfers you to the proper agency in your area.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service refers to calls transmitted over the Internet instead of a regular landline. It is also known as:
- Broadband phone
- VON (Voice On the Net)
- Cable phone
- Digital phone
- Internet or Net phone
It is estimated that 25.5 million households will be using VoIP service as either a primary or secondary line by the end of 2010.
Please review the FCC Consumer Advisory VoIP and 911 Service (PDF)
While VoIP offers advantages over land lines to consumers such as lower cost and greater mobility, most service providers have 9-1-1 service limitations that you need to know if you are considering VoIP.
Basic and Enhanced 9-1-1 Service
These are currently two 9-1-1 emergency service standards for VoIP - Basic and enhanced.
With Basic 9-1-1, you have to tell the dispatcher your location and your phone number. If for some reason your call is disconnected before you've relayed your information, emergency services will not know where you are.
With Enhanced 9-1-1, your location and phone number are displayed to the dispatcher. This could help save valuable time when emergency services are needed as quickly as possible. The VoIP provider will normally ask you to provide your address information when you sign up for the service. Be sure you provide your complete and correct address information. (Address number , Street name [Sun], Street type [Circle, Avenue, etc], Apt No (1, 2, 3, A, B, C])
Burglar or Fire Alarm
If you have a burglar or fire alarm system that dials a monitoring station, you may find some VoIP services are not compatible with your alarm system. In these circumstances, your alarm may not reach the monitoring station or emergency services when activated. Check with your alarm system provider to determine if it can operate with VoIP service.
Some VoIP providers do not include power back-up and, as is the case with cordless phones during power outages, phone service will not be available.
Using VoIP in Multiple Locations
Some VoIP providers enable you to use your telephone in different areas with separate broadband connections. However, if a call is dialed to 9-1-1 from an area other than your home location, the call could be routed to the wrong 9-1-1 facility - resulting in a long delay or lack of emergency services.