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Story: Governor asks for examination of state’s 911 systems
Sunday, April 8, 2007
By C.M. Schmidlkofer ~ Southeast Missourian
Missouri’s 911 centers receive more calls than ever from wireless systems, but few in the state can respond to a caller using a cell phone.
Cape Girardeau County 911 director Dave Hitt is hoping a special legislative committee requested by Gov. Matt Blunt on Wednesday to investigate the state’s 911 systems could bring some attention to the problem.
Blunt is asking for a series of hearings to be conducted by the committee to gather information from local first responder communities to assess current systems’ capabilities, ways to extend coverage to regions without 911 service, advancing access for the deaf and hard of hearing, consolidation and regionalizing efforts and mapping systems to identify wireless coverage.
Hitt said the mapping systems for wireless coverage would be at the top of his wish list.
Hitt estimates the Cape Girardeau County 911 call center, with locations in the Cape Girardeau and Jackson police departments and the sheriff’s department in Jackson, receives about half of its emergency calls from cell phones. At best, cell calls can be tracked to a tower, but that may be miles from the caller, he said.
Missouri is the only state without a way to recover 911 cellular calls, Hitt said.
Twice voters have rejected a proposed tax on cell phones that would be used to upgrade the state’s 911 systems to pinpoint wireless calls, he said.
Hitt thinks a cell phone tax is inevitable for the state’s emergency call centers to respond to wireless users. Continue