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View Full Version : The Cellular 911 system in CA... More reasons for SI CCW


Window_Seat
12-14-2008, 3:01 AM
Most (if not, all) who have a cell phone here in CA have had to dial 911 for one reason or another. During the beginning of the Cell phone boom of the mid 90s, it was relatively easy for your call to get answered by a 911 operator, and whatever the case was, whether it was a collision on the freeway needing immediate attention or a person chasing another, the California Highway Patrol answered cell 911 calls, and it wasn't as busy during that time with cell 911 responses as they are today.

Now if you dial 911, you might get a Police or Sheriff agency, even if you are still on the freeway. There are still flaws to work out of this system, and there will still always be.

It was the time (in June, 2005) when I witnessed a motorcycle with rider & passenger collide in front of me. When I dialed 911 on my cell phone, I got a busy signal. I never even tried twice to get the CHP on because I knew I would be beating a dead horse. I had a local Police department's emergency phone number stored in my phone at the time, and when I used that number, I was told "This is CHP's call, hold on". The rider & his passenger (both wearing helmets) ended up not surviving the crash, but it wasn't specifically because of the lack of response time, because an ambulance happened to be in the area just after I got off the phone with CHP (after the local Police dept patched me through to them).

Last night, I had to get hold of the San Jose PD because of a traffic incident that was "in progress". Instead of calling the "CHP", I called the SJPD on their main non-emergency line. Instead of getting through to a dispatcher, I ended up having to listen to an entire series of recorded messages telling me to press this and press that. Finally I got to the right option, and then every other message said "Please hold for the next operator. If this a life threatening emergency, please hang up and dial 911. It had been maybe 10 minutes, and I finally hung up. I knew after 1-2 minutes that it was no longer of any use asking for the SJPD to respond to the issue I was calling about, but I figured I would stay with them to at least tell them what was up, but I finally gave up because it wasn't worth it.

The people designing this system had to be thinking at one point along the way that this system is a complete joke, and it's going to make violent criminals very happy knowing that they will have lots of time to commit their crimes.

The cell phone 911 system in CA is a joke because even if the lines are not busy, you still get a recorded message saying "you have reached the California Highway Patrol 911 cellular emergency, please press any key or say 1 now", and then you get another recorded message in English & Spanish. While someone is on the phone with 911, they could be getting stabbed, shot, beaten with a deadly weapon, stomped on, kicked, rammed with a vehicle, or you name any other possibility.

While all this is going on and the bad guys get away, you are still on hold, and dead. By the time the dispatcher finally picks up, there is no response.

There will be an effort to get into contact with a person not responding, and with some of the new systems in place, there should potentially be a way to get to that person, but by the time that is done, it's likely too late.

If someone could, I would like them to cite a similar incident where a woman tried to call the Police on her cell phone, and the call had to be rerouted to the "right agency". When the law enforcement found her, it was too late, and she was dead from gunshot wounds. Correct me if I'm wrong on that, please.

I've talked with different CHP dispatchers about this problem. They say that around 75 percent of the calls are to be re-routed to local law enforcement agencies. A few of those calls are because of silly problems like fast food screw ups, nails (pedicure/manicure) not being done right, computer hard drive failures ("my computer crashed"), and other dumb issues.

Some areas that put the public in a very precarious position are:


Cell phone 911 calls are in some cases not returned if the caller hangs up, especially when it's too busy. I know this because I have given up on 911 after 10 minutes on hold.
Hold time anywhere within the state of California with a higher population can be as long as 15 minutes today.
The Cellular 911 system starts out with a recorded message telling the caller to press any key or "say 1 now". Following these instructions might not always be possible for a victim calling from his/her cell phone.
The CHP has a "special allied line" in some areas where only LEO personnel can call. If anyone public calls, they are told not to call that number again.
This special number is answered immediately by dispatchers in direct contact with CHP Officers.
Many calls to CHP 911 are no longer calls of an "emergency nature", they could be calls such as a drive through fast food restaurant getting their order wrong, or a nail salon getting one's nails wrong.
If the call to 911 requires a transfer, the CHP dispatcher is required to stay on the line with the caller "UNTIL" the caller is actually transfered to the right agency.
The CHP in many cases, will get calls that are truly emergencies, but the emergency is already 10-15 minutes cold.
A larger percentage of the American population are no longer using "land line telephones". The cell phone is their "primary" phone, so if they are at home and have to call 911 because their house is being broken into, they will get placed on hold more than likely.
There is not much of an effort to educate the public about having the local Police/Sheriff Dept stored in their cell phones.
Even if that is the case, a connection might not always be available, or service might be interrupted, causing any phone number to be un-dialable except for "911". At least with a land line phone with service cut off, dialing 911 gets through to the Police or Sheriff department in most cases, right away.
If a person is able to dial the local Police/Sheriff department's emergency number with their cell phone, sometimes that line is also busy, so the CHP is not the only agency having this issue.
Some LEO agencies don't have an actual emergency line that leads directly to a dispatcher.


These are all reasons why CCW in California NEEDS to become SHALL ISSUE. All of these issues constitute good cause for a CCW permit in CA, but obviously a CLEA or Sheriff won't look at it that way.

Erik.

Scotty
12-14-2008, 7:46 AM
Are you referring to the woman who was talking with 911 while being chased and having the dispatcher telling her she needs to stop yelling, then getting gunned down outside the PD? http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/sfl-dispatch-call-0511,0,6279018.story

I hate to say it, but I think the only way to reform the 911 system is to heavily fine people that call up for non-emergencies. You slap a thousand dollar fine, people will realized not to call 911 unless it is an emergency.

HunterJim
12-14-2008, 8:41 AM
I worked as a contractor to CHP, Caltrans and local governments and saw this system grow from the inside (it grew like Topsy by the way). CHP is the dog in the manger here, early on insisting that cellular 911 was "their thing". When cell phone market penetration passed about 30%, they were in trouble because they were not funded nor staffed to handle the job they insisted only they could do.

Fast forward to today and you find private contractor call centers, other agencies and yes still CHP answering cellular 911 calls. Off subject calls are a fact of life, and any system will have to recognize it and deal with it.

The system makes advancements in service level when a legislator has a problem like Democrat State Senator Jackie Spier did (she is now in the Congress).

If you are not happy with the level of service, call your State Legislator. You might have to use a landline. ;)

jim

moulton
12-14-2008, 10:19 AM
This is so weird. This morning I was driving on highway 1 home from the beach, The place we were staying had the power go out and we could see a PG&E lineman working on the poles. When we were heading south on HWY1 we saw what looked like fog rolling across the road toward the sea.....but there was no fog anywhere else. As we passed by we saw that there was a small grassfire on the side of the road in a enclosed area. My dad said "stomp it out!" and I just kept on going, it was too large and I didnt have a fire extinguisher. I checked my cell...I had emergency calls only, so I dialed 911....and I got cut off (bad reception on the coast), so a few seconds latter I had 2 bars and I tried again.....After waiting for two minutes I finally got through and I said "there is a fire-" and I was cut off once again. I then said forget it and I speeded off toward the Salmon Creek ranger station. We stoppedin the parking lot, I got out and ran to the main door, knocked.....no one in there. So I ran around to the shed and came to two rangers, told them there was a fire on the side of the road. one of them got on the radio and the other grabbed an extinguisher and hopped in the truck and told us to follow him. We drove up Hwy 1....didnt see it going north bound so we turned around and finaly came upon it. We then pulled over to the side and he started running toward the fire. we then yelled at him "there is a power line down!" and then he saw it. Carefully not touching the metal fence he extinguished the flames using two extinguishers....one of which I grabbed from his truck. a few minutes later another ranger and the volunteer fire department showed up to mop up. On our way back home we saw the PG&E guuy driving back toward the fire.
What I learned.....
1. Cell phone service sucks.
2. 911 puts you on hold.
3. 911 dosent call back.
4. Know your area, where the emergency services are....
5. Dont stomp a fire out....you might get electrocuted. lol

6172crew
12-14-2008, 6:22 PM
Poke a hole in the cell system for CCW, sounds good to me! I think everyone should know that cops arent a call away like they try to tell you on the MSM.

nick
12-14-2008, 6:32 PM
Since we're in a budget crisis, now is the price time to outsource the call center to India.

djbooya
12-14-2008, 6:52 PM
On a different note I accidentally dialed 911 on my cell in san jose about 2 weeks ago.. Didn't realize I did it until I checked my voicemail about 15 minutes after the fact...it was a 911 operator saying they receved a call from my phone, but no response and were checking for an emergency since they had no location info. I checked my call log and lo and behold somehow I dialed 911 with the phone in my pocket...

My point being, both a) somehow I got through without having to press a bunch of other buttons and b) I was obviously disconnected and received a call back. This was in the middle of the day around 880/101/280 in San Jose (approximately 11am-12pm)...

bulgron
12-14-2008, 7:53 PM
Even if you do get through to 911, it might not help you. In March of this year, a woman was shot dead in her own home while talking to a 911 operator:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,340008,00.html

Lesson learned: if you hear a bump at the front door, grab your gun. And, yes, 911 is a big, fat lie used to convince people that The Government Is Here To Help You. That lie, plus the lie of omission on what the police are ACTUALLY legally obligated to do, is what leads to sheep-like people.

If more people really understood the score, we'd be a shall-issue state.

Of late I've been a bit more open about my interest in firearms and CCW with my neighbors here in Silly-Con Valley. For the most part, I get sly jokes about being "Mr. Militia Man," and "He's so quiet and unassuming .... Well, it's always the quiet ones, isn't it?" and "You're legal to carry in 38 states? That's just nuts." But then, interestingly, under their breath, they say, "Actually, if something bad goes down, I'm coming to your house."

I'm on the emergency contact list for quite a few kids in my kid's day care, and so far no one who has "figured me out" is taking me off that list.

I think deep-down inside most people "get it" and wouldn't complain at all if we went shall-issue. It's the loud mouth "disarm society at all cost" Brady Bunch lying bastards that cause all the trouble.

retired
12-14-2008, 7:54 PM
In the old days (about a year or two I believe), if you had trouble getting thru on 911, you could dial "0" if you had Verizon and ask the operator for the emergency number for whatever le agency area you were within. No more. Verizon decided to do away with being able to dial "0" and have it answered. They had no logical explanation when I asked why. Just because.

I have the Riverside County Sheriff's emergency and non emergency numbers programmed in my cell phone, just like I had Riverside PD's when I lived there. If needed, I can get in touch. Plus, if outside their area, I can call them and have them transfer me to another agency in an emergency if it is reasonably within the area.

As far as stupid 911 calls, I used to get them all of the time when I worked the desk at Walnut station. People wanted directions mostly. We would push a button to have them listen to a programmed msg. about the misuse of the 911 system and disconnect them from our line. You wonder how some people can remember to breathe.

Librarian
12-14-2008, 9:23 PM
This 911 topic pops up every couple of months.

Full disclosure - I spent a couple of hours tracking down agency phone numbers; I've got a lot of the PD and SO non-emergency numbers for the SF bay area in my cell phone.

That being said, a couple of places are doing local public safety access points stuff; not all calls go to Vallejo CHP up here any more. SFPD is one, for at least part of the city; Fremont has it 'in progress'. The issue is the equipment available. See link (http://www.td.dgs.ca.gov/Services/911/default.htm).

That doesn't mean the calls get answered any better, though.

Just for fun...

Alameda Fire/EMS: 1 510 618 3485
Alameda SO: 1 925 462 1212
BART PD: 1 510 464 7000, 1 877 679 4000
Concord PD: 1 925 671 3333
Contra Costa Sheriff: 1 925 646 2441, 1 925 228 8282
Fremont PD: 1 510 790 6800
Marin SO: 1 415 472 0911
Martinez PD: 1 925 372 3440
Napa SO: 1 707 253 0911
Oakland PD: 1 510 777 3211
Pleasanton PD: 1 925 931 5122
Sacramento SO: 1 916 874 5111
Sacramento PD: 1 916 265 5151
San Francisco PD: 1 415 553 8090
San Joaquin SO: 1 209 468 4421
San Jose PD: 1 408 277 8911
Santa Clara SO: 1 408 808 4900
Solano SO: 1 707 421 7090
Sonoma SO: 1 717 565 2121
Walnut Creek PD: 1 925 943 5844
Yolo SO: 1 530 666 6612

Now, I've never used any of these (my only 911 call ever was from my home land line, reporting a MVA in front of the house) so I don't know (a) if these are still good numbers - things change over time, and (b) exactly who would respond or how quickly. Some of those supposedly contact "dispatch", according to the web sites I read.

Since some Calgunners work now, or have worked for some of these LE agencies, perhaps those folks might offer the sooper-seekrit contact numbers for when 911 lets us down.

There was a trend - see Marin and Napa SO - to create emergency numbers with <main exchange>+"0911", but that habit seems not well established.

rabagley
12-14-2008, 9:26 PM
Not to be contrary, but I had a very positive 911 experience about a month ago. I stepped outside a bar and watched a truck rear-end a VW beetle. I ran across the street and asked the woman in the VW if she was okay, she looked dazed, which wasn't good, so I called 911.

Got through on the second ring, they asked me my location, I gave it, and I was connected to Santa Monica emergency services in a total of about 30 seconds. Ambulances were on the way within a minute after that.

Not that the system doesn't need a major overhaul or even does a good job, but it worked the only time I tried to use it.

Synergy
12-14-2008, 11:58 PM
Call 911 in LA City from a landline, an about 25% of the time you will get "all operators are busy please stand by." message.

I have a direct number to my own dispatch and have got that message.

Welcome to the state that 80% of 911 call are bravo sierra!

Shall I remind you
FZ12Ry-hD6I

CmpsdNoMore
12-15-2008, 1:04 AM
I have dialed 911 in CA once. There was a small fire along the road (during that last fire on Pendleton) and I didn't have anything to deal with it.
Called 911 twice about 5 minutes apart and it said something or other about being busy.

I can see that at some times it'll be busier than others, but one failed call to 911 could mean someones life.

As someone else mentioned, there should be a large fine for calling 911 for a bogus reason. Especially after hearing that crazy lady at Burger King.

Synergy
12-15-2008, 1:15 AM
More proper use of 911 in California
Language not safe
CPsHEkyk8I8&

Ironchef
12-15-2008, 10:22 AM
911 isn't a joke..it's the jokers calling it...because they locked their keys in their car or because they left their iron on at home...or because when there's a fender bender in slow moving traffic, 30 people call and hysterically try to explain where they are on the freeway to a dispatcher who's trying to thank them and say it's already been reported.

Like Librarian, i keep all the local dispatch numbers on my cell phone at the beginning of my address book numbered 00 through 12 based on where I am the most. I haven't called 911 in years and don't plan to, even though many local PDs are now taking them and they have made many inroads with wireless companies to have smarter routing of calls since landlines are already routed to local PDs.

When i'm listening to PD radio, be it CCC SO, Concord, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg, or Antioch PD, there's often 911 abandon calls all the time, sometimes it's repeat offenders (kids or attention seeking adults), and then there accidents. It's easy to see why there's so much disregard for 911 as being a life line because every fool and attention starved nimrod is calling it..and when that 10% of ligitimate 911 calls comes in...they have to wait for the nimrods to free up the lines.

E Pluribus Unum
12-15-2008, 11:11 AM
Someone watches Dr. Phil! ;)


Most (if not, all) who have a cell phone here in CA have had to dial 911 for one reason or another. During the beginning of the Cell phone boom of the mid 90s, it was relatively easy for your call to get answered by a 911 operator, and whatever the case was, whether it was a collision on the freeway needing immediate attention or a person chasing another, the California Highway Patrol answered cell 911 calls, and it wasn't as busy during that time with cell 911 responses as they are today.

Now if you dial 911, you might get a Police or Sheriff agency, even if you are still on the freeway. There are still flaws to work out of this system, and there will still always be.

It was the time (in June, 2005) when I witnessed a motorcycle with rider & passenger collide in front of me. When I dialed 911 on my cell phone, I got a busy signal. I never even tried twice to get the CHP on because I knew I would be beating a dead horse. I had a local Police department's emergency phone number stored in my phone at the time, and when I used that number, I was told "This is CHP's call, hold on". The rider & his passenger (both wearing helmets) ended up not surviving the crash, but it wasn't specifically because of the lack of response time, because an ambulance happened to be in the area just after I got off the phone with CHP (after the local Police dept patched me through to them).

Last night, I had to get hold of the San Jose PD because of a traffic incident that was "in progress". Instead of calling the "CHP", I called the SJPD on their main non-emergency line. Instead of getting through to a dispatcher, I ended up having to listen to an entire series of recorded messages telling me to press this and press that. Finally I got to the right option, and then every other message said "Please hold for the next operator. If this a life threatening emergency, please hang up and dial 911. It had been maybe 10 minutes, and I finally hung up. I knew after 1-2 minutes that it was no longer of any use asking for the SJPD to respond to the issue I was calling about, but I figured I would stay with them to at least tell them what was up, but I finally gave up because it wasn't worth it.

The people designing this system had to be thinking at one point along the way that this system is a complete joke, and it's going to make violent criminals very happy knowing that they will have lots of time to commit their crimes.

The cell phone 911 system in CA is a joke because even if the lines are not busy, you still get a recorded message saying "you have reached the California Highway Patrol 911 cellular emergency, please press any key or say 1 now", and then you get another recorded message in English & Spanish. While someone is on the phone with 911, they could be getting stabbed, shot, beaten with a deadly weapon, stomped on, kicked, rammed with a vehicle, or you name any other possibility.

While all this is going on and the bad guys get away, you are still on hold, and dead. By the time the dispatcher finally picks up, there is no response.

There will be an effort to get into contact with a person not responding, and with some of the new systems in place, there should potentially be a way to get to that person, but by the time that is done, it's likely too late.

If someone could, I would like them to cite a similar incident where a woman tried to call the Police on her cell phone, and the call had to be rerouted to the "right agency". When the law enforcement found her, it was too late, and she was dead from gunshot wounds. Correct me if I'm wrong on that, please.

I've talked with different CHP dispatchers about this problem. They say that around 75 percent of the calls are to be re-routed to local law enforcement agencies. A few of those calls are because of silly problems like fast food screw ups, nails (pedicure/manicure) not being done right, computer hard drive failures ("my computer crashed"), and other dumb issues.

Some areas that put the public in a very precarious position are:


Cell phone 911 calls are in some cases not returned if the caller hangs up, especially when it's too busy. I know this because I have given up on 911 after 10 minutes on hold.
Hold time anywhere within the state of California with a higher population can be as long as 15 minutes today.
The Cellular 911 system starts out with a recorded message telling the caller to press any key or "say 1 now". Following these instructions might not always be possible for a victim calling from his/her cell phone.
The CHP has a "special allied line" in some areas where only LEO personnel can call. If anyone public calls, they are told not to call that number again.
This special number is answered immediately by dispatchers in direct contact with CHP Officers.
Many calls to CHP 911 are no longer calls of an "emergency nature", they could be calls such as a drive through fast food restaurant getting their order wrong, or a nail salon getting one's nails wrong.
If the call to 911 requires a transfer, the CHP dispatcher is required to stay on the line with the caller "UNTIL" the caller is actually transfered to the right agency.
The CHP in many cases, will get calls that are truly emergencies, but the emergency is already 10-15 minutes cold.
A larger percentage of the American population are no longer using "land line telephones". The cell phone is their "primary" phone, so if they are at home and have to call 911 because their house is being broken into, they will get placed on hold more than likely.
There is not much of an effort to educate the public about having the local Police/Sheriff Dept stored in their cell phones.
Even if that is the case, a connection might not always be available, or service might be interrupted, causing any phone number to be un-dialable except for "911". At least with a land line phone with service cut off, dialing 911 gets through to the Police or Sheriff department in most cases, right away.
If a person is able to dial the local Police/Sheriff department's emergency number with their cell phone, sometimes that line is also busy, so the CHP is not the only agency having this issue.
Some LEO agencies don't have an actual emergency line that leads directly to a dispatcher.


These are all reasons why CCW in California NEEDS to become SHALL ISSUE. All of these issues constitute good cause for a CCW permit in CA, but obviously a CLEA or Sheriff won't look at it that way.

Erik.

Window_Seat
12-15-2008, 2:03 PM
Someone watches Dr. Phil! ;)

It's better than watching Oprah...:p

MrSlippyFist
12-15-2008, 2:11 PM
Most (if not, all) who have a cell phone here in CA have had to dial 911 for one reason or another.

Really? Possibly everyone?? I just asked around my office, and they must have missed that memo too. I haven't, and if I was in arms reach of a landline I would use that first because I understand how the system works and how to get help the fastest.

AaronHorrocks
12-15-2008, 2:15 PM
I've never dialed 911... I've only called who I need to call, Local PD or FD.

MrSlippyFist
12-15-2008, 2:16 PM
But apparently everyone has!

/Is it something to do when bored?

pnkssbtz
12-15-2008, 3:01 PM
Most (if not, all) who have a cell phone here in CA have had to dial 911 for one reason or another.Really? Possibly everyone?? I just asked around my office, and they must have missed that memo too. I haven't, and if I was in arms reach of a landline I would use that first because I understand how the system works and how to get help the fastest.
I've enhanced the pertinent information in case you didn't catch it the first time.


Your specious antagonism is somewhat uncalled for considering your misreading of what was said.

MrSlippyFist
12-15-2008, 3:10 PM
Really? Possibly everyone??

HAHAH Caps are fun! Good thing I used the qualifier "Possibly".

sierratangofoxtrotunion
12-15-2008, 3:18 PM
A few years back I was just pulling into the parking area behind our apartment when 2 or 3 guys started shooting at each other in the middle of the street. I got my *** (and my truck) out of the way and behind the apartments and called 911. I also called up to my wife who had the window open to get herself and our daughter and get in the bathtub. After a minute, I got through and started telling about how there was a shooting on *this* street between *this street* and *this street*. She says "in what city?" "What do you mean what city? In Antioch!" I think that was the first time I ever called 911 on my cell phone and didn't realize I would get connected to the CHP. She put me on hold and connected me with Antioch PD who got everybody who was on shift down there in a hurry. After that I programmed in all the local numbers to call, and I only call 911 if it's something happening on a freeway or if I'm somewhere I don't have the number for.

BTW, isn't the GPS in the phone supposed to be for the 911 system? So that even if you can't speak (like you're dead) the operator has your location and can send somebody out there if it sounds like they should. Also if you're not on a freeway, I would think the system should be able to sort out what town you're in and route you directly to that department, rather than start at square one with the CHP.

pnkssbtz
12-15-2008, 3:18 PM
HAHAH Caps are fun! Good thing I used the qualifier "Possibly".
You were still making an antagonistic post based entirely upon a straw man argument.

What affront the OP's post could have engendered your undue antagonism is beyond my comprehension, but obviously you felt necessary to deride and mock his statements.

Congratulations.

Good day to you sir.

MrSlippyFist
12-15-2008, 3:22 PM
Indeed. Shallow and pedantic.

nick
12-16-2008, 12:11 AM
BTW, isn't the GPS in the phone supposed to be for the 911 system? So that even if you can't speak (like you're dead) the operator has your location and can send somebody out there if it sounds like they should. Also if you're not on a freeway, I would think the system should be able to sort out what town you're in and route you directly to that department, rather than start at square one with the CHP.

The GPS in the phone is for you. It can be used to trace your phone, if it's on. By default, most phones have it off until you actually try to use it, in order to conserve battery charge. Als, many people (like myself) turn it off until it's needed, since they don't like the idea of potentially being traced (just like they don't like London-style cameras in Santa Monica, for example). A phone company can remotely turn it on, unless that ability is blocked, as well :D

sierratangofoxtrotunion
12-16-2008, 9:39 AM
The GPS in the phone is for you. It can be used to trace your phone, if it's on. By default, most phones have it off until you actually try to use it, in order to conserve battery charge. Als, many people (like myself) turn it off until it's needed, since they don't like the idea of potentially being traced (just like they don't like London-style cameras in Santa Monica, for example). A phone company can remotely turn it on, unless that ability is blocked, as well :D

A friend of mine found out how to hack into his phone, into the non-public menu options and settings, and found a GPS section he didn't even know was there. It displayed his coordinates - he looked it up and it was exactly correct.