I’m sure most of you know this already, but when you dial “9-1-1” from your cell phone, the call does not go to a local emergency dispatcher as you might expect. Instead, it’s routed to the CHP regional dispatch…which happens to be located in Vallejo…which happens a long way from San Carlos. And depending on their workload when you place the call, you might actually sit on hold before anyone can get to you. And even if you do get through, chances are good they might not be able to help you. This is valuable time wasted, and in an emergency situation that time lost could be the difference between life and death.
So if you have an emergency situation in San Carlos and all you have is your cell phone, which number should you call? Program this number into your cell phone under “Emergency” –>
This is the direct line to the San Carlos Police dispatcher. When you call this number, they usually pick up on the first ring — as opposed to minutes on hold with the CHP system. And even if you don’t need the police but you do need an ambulance or fire engine, the police dispatcher can quickly route your call to the right agency.
Need a live example? I just had one today. I was watching a high school soccer match at Woodside High School when a player was injured to the point of needing immediate medical attention. One person dialed 911 on their cell phone and was told “You need to hang up and dial 911 on a land-line,” by the CHP dispatch. A land-line on a soccer field? Yeah, right. Nobody knew what to do next. I called the number above (even though I wasn’t in San Carlos) yet I was routed immediately to the right dispatch center, and the fire department and paramedics were on the scene within 5 minutes.
There are a number of technologies in development, such as “triangulation” that will allow your cell phone to be routed to the appropriate local dispatch. But they’re not in place yet, and “almost” doesn’t count in an emergency. Be smart and program this number into your cell phone today.
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