Dialing 911 to report an emergency is now almost part of our genetic code.
Until the advent of the cell phone, 911 calls have been made exclusively from traditional landlines that immediately identify the location of the phone to the dispatcher.
Today, people can also call 911 from anywhere if they have a cell phone. In some instances, people have abandoned landlines altogether and use cell phones exclusively. Nationally, it is estimated that 30% of 911 calls come from cell phones.
911 Calls From Cell Phones
When you call 911 from a cell phone, the call often lands in a regional call center. Depending on where you are when you make the call, it may be answered in another city or county. To get help to you, there are two facts the call-taker needs to know immediately:
Different emergency services use different dispatch centers. With the right information, the call-taker will be able to transfer your call to the right center.
911 Calls From Cell Phones In Petaluma
In Sonoma County, 911 calls from a cell phone go to a California Highway Patrol Dispatcher who decides what agency should handle the call. Granted, some cell phone carriers have systems that initially direct the call to the correct local dispatcher. However, this does not always work.
According to the Petaluma Police Department:
“The majority of 911 cell phone calls in this area go to a CHP dispatch center in Benicia, California. Due to the volume of calls, many callers will get a busy signal until CHP can get to it, then route it to an appropriate law enforcement agency if it is not CHP’s jurisdiction. Depending on the volume of calls this can be time consuming in an emergency.”
“Cell service is getting more sophisticated depending on the provider. As you know, cell phones ping the closest cell tower and some providers are able to pinpoint their position thereby routing the call to the correct law enforcement agency. It is not a perfect service however, on portions of 101 near Petaluma, for example, some calls that should go to CHP come to Petaluma and visa versa.”
It is recommended that if you want to use a cell phone to make an emergency call for assistance from Petaluma Police or Petaluma Fire, you should program the following numbers in your cell phone:
707-762-2727 for Police
707-762-4545 for Fire
Calls to these numbers go directly the Petaluma Communications Center for police, fire, or ambulance.
Dialing 911 on a cell phone in Petaluma will work but it may take longer for it to be routed correctly.
What is an emergency?
Generally it is an event that presents an immediate or imminent threat to life or crime in progress, e.g.,All other calls (from landline or cell phone) to the Petaluma Police should be made using their business phone number, 778-4372.
–Vehicle accidents with injuries
–Physical fights in progress, including domestic violence
–Calls involving weapons
–A burglary or robbery in progress
For a brief explanation of when to use the emergency numbers, go to http://cityofpetaluma.net/police/dispatch.html