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Cell phones and 911

Below are extracts from a letter from our communications manager, Annette Stolba, published in the Mountain Mail.  It contains information regarding cell phones and the ability to call 911 even when services have been cut.

During the recent phone outage, some cell phones and other phones were not working due to a fiber optic line being cut in the Pueblo area.  If you have an emergency and your cell phone is down, try calling 9-1-1 anyway.  I did a test call to 9-1-1 during the recent outage, and my call did go through to the 9-1-1 center. This is due to requirements that cell phone providers allow all9-1-1calls to go through.  This is one of the reasons that organizations request that we donate our old cell phones so that they can be given out to victims or people who may have a need to call 9-1-1.  Although they don’t have normal cell service, they could still get through to 9-1-1.  

If you do not have cell service please do not call 9-1-1 just to test your phone; only use 9-1-1 for life and death emergencies.  We also ask that you do not give your old cell phones to children to play with.  Some phones are programmed to dial 9-1-1 if you hold down the buttons too long, and we get numerous calls that cannot be traced but we can hear a child playing.  

If you do dial 9-1-1, make sure you stay on the phone with the dispatcher.  Not all cell phones will give the dispatcher the coordinates of the phone. 

Fire prevention classes teach us to have a plan in the case of a fire, how to get out, where to meet, etc.  It is just as important to have a plan if your phone service goes down.  Do you know what neighbors have a landline, where the closest police station is, where the hospital is?  It really has not been that long a time when cell phones were not around.  It is important to plan what you would do in any emergency, especially if you don’t have any phone service.    

Chaffee County Emergency Management and Chaffee County Public Health are planning a CERT(Community Emergency Response Team) class soon to teach citizens how to help themselves and their neighbors in the event of an emergency.  It will teach what you need to have on hand to help yourself and family for the first 72-96 hours in a situation where emergency services may be overwhelmed or unable to reach you.  I encourage you to sign up for the class.  For more information please call Don Breece at Public Health,  719-395-0344, extension 201.     

 Annette Stolba

Communications Supervisor

Chaffee County 9-1-1 Center