This past Sunday, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a comedy news show on HBO, discussed a problem that Rural First has been speaking to since our inception. Emergency call centers and first responders are in desperate need of funding and new GPS tracking/GIS mapping technology. The United States makes over 240 million 911 calls every year, and the system breaks down often enough to take notice.
Like this story of GPS and GIS issues affecting 911 operators first reported by CBS46 in Atlanta, GA.
Shanell Anderson, 31, of Atlanta, GA who lost control of her SUV and drove into a local pond while delivering newspapers around 4:15 a.m. one morning. In the released 911 call, Anderson was initially calm as she told the dispatcher she was sinking into the pond while inside her vehicle. The dispatcher repeatedly asked Anderson for an address, telling the woman the information she was giving couldn’t been found in the system. Anderson attempted to repeat her location several times, each time with a more urgent tone, before finally being disconnected with the dispatcher.
After the original 911 call, the dispatcher placed another call to an unknown official, and the two worked together to try to locate the woman. In the second call, the dispatcher advised that she had already sent emergency crews to several areas with water as they tried to locate the woman.
This problem seems to be a surprisingly growing issue as GPS technology and GIS map correction for 911 departments lags behind other private entities. This is why Rural First provides affordable solutions to rural counties that otherwise could not afford them. You can watch the full episode of Last Week Tonight and the problems faced by 911 operators below.
*The following video from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) does have very coarse language. If you are easily offended, it is recommended you don’t watch.