911 Operators May Not Be Able To Help You

With a cellular phone by your side you may feel more safe, because you can call for help where ever you are. But most 9-1-1 emergency centers aren't able to track a cell phone's location.

That's what happened to a Longview woman Monday. She called for help then dispatchers struggled to find her. When they did find her she was already dead.

Monday morning a call came into Longview's 911 emergency. Lori Long needed help. But because Lori was using her cell phone the 911 operator couldn't find her.

Dispatchers called Lori's cellular company, found her address, and sent an officer. He arrived 17-minutes later. Too late for Lori.

Police say her estranged husband, James Reedy, shot and killed her then turned the gun on himself.

"Had she not been at home then it would've been very difficult to locate her with our current system," says the manager of Longview's emergency center, Sally Rees.

Sally says what the 911 system needs is called a 'phase 2' upgrade. That would tell dispatchers where the cell call is coming from.

For example say you're in an emergency situation and all you have is a cell phone. Even if you aren't able to tell dispatchers exactly where you are, with phase 2 they'll be able to pinpoint your location within a few feet.

"In the 2004-2005 budget is when I plan to ask for funding," says Sally

She says the city has to wait to complete current upgrading on the 11 year old 911 system, so that the cell phone tracking plan will be able to work at all. It's expected to cost about a $100,000.

Money well spent to save a life.

Once your city has the phase 2 tracking system in place you may then have to upgrade your cellular phone. Most companys are already selling phones that work with the new 911 system. Check with your phone company to make sure yours is compatible.

Amy Tatum reporting.