Warning: Cellphones problematic for 911

I didn’t know this before reading the article below, but I’ve been resisting the idea of dropping my land line for years. I’ve always thought it was a good idea to have a more low-tech backup. Now I’m even more determined to keep my land line.

Darlene Dukes struggled to speak as she called 911 from her cellphone. She could barely tell the operator her address: 602 Wales Drive.

The operator, trying to understand Dukes, sent an ambulance to Wells Street in Atlanta— 28 miles from Dukes’ apartment in Johns Creek, a suburb north of the city.

Paramedics finally reached the stricken woman almost an hour after her call on Aug. 2, 2008. They were too late. Forty minutes after arriving at the hospital, Dukes, 39, the mother of two boys, died of a blood clot in her lungs.

That cellphone call was critical. If Dukes had called from a land-line telephone, her address would have immediately popped up on the 911 operator’s screen, leaving no room for confusion.

Dukes’ case is like many others across the nation. For the millions of Americans giving up their land lines in favor of cellphones, dialing 911 may no longer mean a quick response. It can lead to misrouted calls, delayed information about the location of the caller and, most important, a slower emergency response.

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