NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s a terrifying experience – you call 911 for help, but you can’t get through to the right responders because you’re dialing from a cell phone.
CBS2’s Mary Calvi found out the essential information you need when calling for help.
“I realized he was seizing, or what I thought was a seizure,” parent Jaime Spano said about the night her son had a medical emergency.
Spano immediately grabbed her cell phone, but said she couldn’t get a signal to reach 911.
“We don’t have good service in our house. The call wasn’t going through on my phone.”
Spano didn’t have a landline. Her husband tried from his cell too.
“The father was pretty rattled. I don’t know where he went I was trying to transfer him,” emergency dispatchers were recorded saying.
The operator also had a question about Spano’s address.
“What’s the street name again?”
Confusion that could have cost critical minutes, but once the mom got through, she knew exactly what to do.
Spano immediately told Yonkers 911 her home address and requested an ambulance be sent there.
“I actually connected to Yonkers 911 before my husband,” the mother told CBS2.
She knew to give her address immediately, but the situation was no less terrifying.
“I believed my son would die in my arms. It was awful.”
This is a critical lesson for anyone calling 911 from a cell phone. Even though your first instinct may be to share details of your emergency at the beginning of the call, both police and the FCC recommend you give the location first.
Cell calls may be transmitted to agencies miles from the actual place the emergency is taking place.
“A cell call will go to the state police in Hawthorne and they in turn would ask you where the emergency is and they would transfer it to the proper jurisdiction,” Westchester County 911 coordinator John Chirico explained.
The call transfer is usually a pretty quick process, but could still slows response time.
Authorities say landline calls to 911 are faster, but fewer and fewer people have them.
“Sixty to 70 percent of the 911 calls that are made now are cell,” Chirico added.
That means an exact address won’t pop up on an operator’s screen as with a landline. The Spanos have a landline now, but Jaime is still making sure to share this potentially lifesaving information.
“I posted on Facebook for other moms and it was amazing to see how many people responded,” Spano said.
During the emergency the boy’s mother was also clever enough to trip her security alarm to get help there faster; a great backup plan for homeowners.