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Over the past year, a quiet change has taken place in the way wireless telephone calls to 9-1-1 are handled in Roseville.  In the past, all wireless callers who dialed 9-1-1 were connected to the California Highway Patrol. CHP dispatchers screened the calls, determined the location of the emergency and then, if necessary, transferred the calls to the appropriate local public safety dispatch center.

Today, most wireless callers in Roseville who dial 9-1-1 are connected directly to a Roseville public safety dispatcher.  This means that most unnecessary transfers are eliminated, and wireless callers in Roseville receive faster police, fire and emergency medical response.

The change began in the latter part of 2006, when Roseville’s older 9-1-1 system was replaced with a new wireless-ready 9-1-1 system. The new call handling system, manufactured by Positron Public Safety Systems, captures the current address or current geo-coordinates from wireless telephones, and displays that information to the dispatcher.

Individual wireless companies have a crucial role in the conversion. Every company must upgrade their equipment to transmit their customers’ current address or precise location to 9-1-1 dispatchers.  That way,  emergency responders can find wireless callers, even if the callers are unable to tell the dispatchers exactly where they are. Wireless companies with the required technology in place were scheduled to switch their Roseville-area cell sites, to route wireless calls “hitting” those cell sites directly to Roseville’s 911 center.

A phased approach was used, both to ensure that the technology was working correctly, and also to assess the impact of the additional call volume on Roseville’s dispatchers.

Rosevile Police Support Commander Teresa Murray explained, “Wireless 9-1-1 doesn’t increase the number of actual emergencies in the city, but it does increase the number of 9-1-1 calls coming into our dispatch center. When we have a major traffic collision or a structure fire, our dispatchers answer many more calls from wireless telephone callers, all reporting the same incident.   Our dispatchers also answer many more “hang-up” or “accidental” wireless 9-1-1 calls now. We wanted to assess the impact as each wireless company was directly connected.  We wanted to ensure that our dispatchers could handle the additional call volume without excessive hold times or other degradation of service to our customers.”

Verizon was the first “911-ready” wireless company to make the switch in Roseville, in January 2007.  That switch resulted in a 21 percent increase in 911 calls coming into Roseville’s center. Nextel’s Roseville-area sites were switched in August, Metro-PCS in October, and AT&T in December.  Surewest will switch their Roseville sites over at the end of February, 2008.

This means that customers of those wireless companies no longer need to call Roseville’s seven-digit emergency number for a direct connection.  They can just call 9-1-1 to report an emergency in Roseville, and they will be connected directly to a Roseville dispatcher.

The bottom line:

If you are a subscriber to any of the following wireless companies, and are reporting an emergency anywhere in Roseville, just dial 9-1-1 and you will be directly connected to Roseville dispatchers:

Verizon
Nextel
Metro-PCS
AT&T (formerly Cingular)
After March 1: Surewest
If you have any other wireless company, you may (1) call 9-1-1, and CHP dispatchers will transfer you to Roseville or another jurisdiction, or (2)for a direct connection to dispatchers in Roseville, call Roseville’s seven-digit emergency line, (916)786-6444.