First responders find new way to locate people quicker and more accurately

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Oregon has many beautiful seasons that allow those that live here to enjoy hiking, hunting and even cutting down trees for Christmas. But with the outdoors and icy winter season, comes inevitable risks like getting lost or getting in a car crash.

That’s why first responders are coming up with new ways to locate people easier and more accurately.

On Monday, Sept. 16, a car with six kids crashed and rolled in the mountains. Rural Metro Fire got the call to respond but couldn’t find their location.

“Monday night we had six kids that had rollover in the mountains,” Chief Austin Prince, Rural Metro Fire, said. “We found them quicker by having one of our officers call them by phone and in return they sent us their location and we drove right to them.”

They used the maps app on the driver’s smartphone to send the location to firefighters. Now, Chief Prince wants others to know how to use the same, potentially life-saving technology.

“It has definitely benefitted getting to people faster when they’re in trouble,” Chief Prince said.

In order to send your location to another person, follow these steps:

  1. Open the maps app on your phone.
  2. Click and hold the blue bubble until the options to send or share your location show.
  3. Send your location to the person you want to send it to.

According to 911 Dispatch Manager, Marci Haack, at least 75 percent of 911 calls come from a cell phone. She says this can pose some problems as pings to a cell phone tower aren’t always that accurate.

“We do have a phone system that maps where 911 calls are coming from but a lot of times it can hit a cell tower and not really where they’re at,” Haack said.

They do however have an updated system that allows dispatchers to ping the phone versus a phone tower which helps with accuracy.

If you’re out and about, you should always look for signs around you or distinctive markings to be prepared and ready for an emergency.

Chief Prince says you should practice sending you location with a friend or so you know how to do it in case you need to.

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