As More Folks Cut Their Landlines, Harris County Launches 911 Education Campaign

Harris County is launching a new campaign to make sure people know how to properly use 911. This campaign is needed, in part, because more people are discontinuing their landlines, and moving exclusively to cell phones.

On an average day, the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network receives between 10,000 and 12,000 calls.  More than 80% of those calls come from people on cell phones.

Mobile devices usually don't give a caller's precise location — as a landline would.  

The Network's Sonya Lopez-Clauson says that's why it's so important for all 911 callers to let dispatchers know their exact whereabouts:

"Including your street, your cross street, any landmarks — and, especially, what city you are in."

Lopez-Clauson says there are several jurisdictions tucked inside Houston, and dispatchers need to know where to transfer calls.

She says two other pieces of advice that 911 officials want everyone to do a better job following include answering all of a dispatcher's questions, and staying on the line until the dispatcher says it's okay to hang up.

"So that they can get those questions answered, and especially, give you any instructions they need (to give)."

To get that message to sink in with more people, Greater Harris County 911 will run ads in movie theatres through the month of April reminding people to give their location, answer questions, and stay on the line.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...