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John Oliver reveals a deadly problem with 911 emergency calls

Some 911 dispatchers won’t be able to locate you.


Michelle Jaworski


John Oliver has a reality check for anyone who needs to call 911 during an emergency.

In some cases, like if you use a landline, dispatchers will be able to find your location. Problem is, 70-80 percent of emergency calls now come from cellphones, and it’s becoming harder for 911 dispatchers to locate people when they need it most. 

In some cases this could be deadly; a USA Today study found that the chances of being located by a dispatcher is anywhere from 10 to 95 percent. As Oliver explains, an Uber or the Domino’s app can determine your location more accurately than a 911 dispatcher.

Even then, many of the call centers are understaffed and underfunded, further delaying the dispatch of live-saving services. The Federal Communications Commission wants to improve location technology to make 911 dispatches accurate at least 80 percent of the time, but that still means that one out of five people still might not be located.

“Until we are explicitly confronted with the challenges facing 911, it seems we’re not going to do anything about them,” Oliver said. “And maybe the problem is that we are taught from a young age to take 911 for granted.”

The Daily Dot