- Jan 11, 2020 at 8:31 pm #3626612Kevin RBPL Member
I was talking with a friend at church who works as a 911 operator. I asked her what it means when my phone says “emergency calls only”. Apparently, if there is signal from a tower that is not part of your cell provider’s network, you can still call 911 as all phone companies are required to send all emergency calls to the nearest center. She then described some of the technology that they have available, such as RapidSoS, which is able to gather data on your phone’s GPS signal and provide your real time location to emergency responders. So, for example, last summer I was hiking with a friend in New Mexico. He had intermittent service, but forgot to bring a charging cable and his battery died. I had no service, but the ability to charge my phone. Theoretically, if we needed to call 911, my phone should have been able to connect with his company’s signal, even though I didn’t have regular signal. In addition, if the signal was extremely weak, emergency services could have possibly gotten enough to detect an emergency and then latch onto my location.
Has anyone here had any experiences where they needed to call 911, didn’t have any regular service, but were still able to get through? My friend said that it is permissible to make test 911 calls to see if it works for you in a particular area, but she recommended calling the police’s non-emergency line first to notify them that you will be making a test call. Otherwise, some agencies’ policies require them to send a response no matter what.
Obviously, this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to call 911 from anywhere- there has to be a cell signal of some type to get through. But, in case of a true emergency, it’s worth attempting to dial 911, even if your phone does not show any signal available.
Also, if you do any international travel, 112 is the emergency number for most other countries.Jan 11, 2020 at 8:48 pm #3626614MJ HBPL Member
My friend said that it is permissible to make test 911 calls to see if it works for you in a particular area, but she recommended calling the police’s non-emergency line first to notify them that you will be making a test call. Otherwise, some agencies’ policies require them to send a response no matter what.
I’ve never worked for law enforcement or a 911 center, but I would say definitely don’t try without letting the police know. I’d be afraid that a weak signal could result in a miscommunication. You might get through and then get cut-off before you could speak.Jan 11, 2020 at 9:05 pm #3626616Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I was talking to a nice sherriff at a fairly remote place, metolius river, she said sometimes 911 works even if you can’t make calls.
If a signal can go from phone to cell tower but not the reverse maybe 911 would work but you wouldn’t know it until sar appeared
I reported a forest fire on 911 once. I haven’t been able to make regular calls from there. They said they already knew about it, thanks.Jan 11, 2020 at 10:20 pm #3626623ArthurBPL Member
We are trained to let the 911 call ring a long time. The issue apparently is that all carriers are required to connect a 911 call whether you have their service or not. But, the phone tries to go to the provider’s system first, then tries any other tower or provider after some set time period. So stay on the call. Second issue because of this is that you actually may have service for 911 thru another provider even if your phone had no bars because of what I just wrote. Anyone out there able to verify this?Jan 12, 2020 at 7:23 am #3626637Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
When I made a regular call from a remote location, I texted my wife, it said it didn’t go through, but then I got a response from my wife so obviously it did go through even though it said it didn’t. And there were a bunch of messages from my wife that said “no subject”.
Then I hiked further up the ridge to get a better signal and it started working better.
I made a voice call and then it asked me to re-enter the number and then that worked. I was on a different carrier and the number I originally entered wasn’t compatible.
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