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VonageTPA
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

It might be the real 911 center that put him on hold. I don't know where the caller is located, but here's an excerpt from an article recently ran in Florida. Note that they're talking about the county's E911 center, not a Vonage/3rd party group:

LEE COUNTY— Across Southwest Florida, law enforcement agencies are experiencing a major staffing shortage. Deputies, crime scene technicians, even detectives are working thousands of hours in overtime to handle 9-1-1 calls. Even with the overtime, one office has to prioritize emergency calls – so the phone rings until they can get to it.

Now hiring signs are everywhere. It's evidence Southwest Florida's job market is growing and becoming increasingly competitive.

But for the Florida Highway Patrol, the job market is becoming a major problem.

"We can't do everything and we have to prioritize. The officer comes first and then we get to the telephone as we can," said Commander Terry Davis of the Florida Highway Patrol.

In other words, when you dial FHP in an emergency, sometimes the phone just rings. Dispatchers are forced to monitor as many as five counties at a time.
[story continues]
Full story can be found at: http://www.nbc-2.com/Articles/readarticle.asp?articleid=5902&z=3&p=

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firewall
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Keep in mind.....

The authorities WERE ON SCENE well before the house burned down. It would seem that even if the caller was put on hold, for whatever reason, there was still a response well witnin a reasonable time.
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NateHoy
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Here's the original link to the story that was cut-and-pasted above:

http://www.kstp.com/article/stories/S14441.html?cat=1

I'm still a little uncertain as to whether Vonage or his local 911 center put him on hold, it isn't clearly stated in the article, but they are clearly implying that he doesn't have E911 and a Vonage 911 call center put him on hold.

I'm not sure how relevant a couple of minutes on hold really was, frankly. If the house was fully involved by the time fire crews arrived, then how did he go back in the house? And if the fire crews were delayed by, say, 5 minutes on hold, would that have made the difference between "fully involved" and "able to save the house with moderate damage"?

Granted, understaffing 911 is bad, and if Vonage's call centers are understaffed for handling 911 then they most certainly need to solve that problem.

But the story is extrapolating a LOT. Of course, it's sexy, and it sells news.

Still and all, Voip has a LOT fewer years under its belt than POTS, and of course 911 over Voip is a really new phenomenon. So having an old cell or a backup plan is always a good idea.

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mbkerk
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I think everyone should test 911 in their home. I did this soon after I completed the 911 section on my Vonage account. I called 911 and explained to the operator what I was doing, and why. He understood, and told me I was good to go. He did not have my address or any other personal information on his monitor, as they would with traditional 911, however the call did go to the 911 call center in my city.

If it were a health issue, and I were not able to talk, it could complicate things. He did have my phone number (simple caller ID) and he maybe could have traced it that way, but that would add extra time.

Until e911 gets rolled out completely, Vonage 911 is a compromise. I understand that, just as anyone savvy enough to use Voip should.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

mbkerk wrote:
I think everyone should test 911 in their home. I did this soon after I completed the 911 section on my Vonage account. I called 911 and explained to the operator what I was doing, and why. He understood, and told me I was good to go. He did not have my address or any other personal information on his monitor, as they would with traditional 911, however the call did go to the 911 call center in my city.


That's a good idea, but before testing 911 I highly recommend calling your local police station on their non-emergency number, and finding out who you have to call to prearrange the test. That way, they can give you an idea of how busy they are, and whether it is a good time to test.

Testing 911 "cold" (without letting the 911 center know you are about to do a test) comes with penalties and fines in some areas. Plus, if the center is really busy, it could potentially take up a slot that someone experiencing a real emergency needs to have.

But, you are absolutely right, Vonage 911 is not the same as POTS 911. There are a lot more factors working in Vonage 911, as opposed to POTS where your local phone company has a hard wired connection to your house and therefore (barring error) knows where you are just based on which pair of copper wires went active.

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mbkerk
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

NateHoy wrote:

That's a good idea, but before testing 911 I highly recommend calling your local police station on their non-emergency number, and finding out who you have to call to prearrange the test. That way, they can give you an idea of how busy they are, and whether it is a good time to test.



Good point! I did not do that, however the first thing I said to him was that "This is not an emergency" and I asked him if it was OK to ask him a question. He was fine with it, and said he had dealt with similar calls.

Around here they encourage people to call 911 for any matter regarding the police. That bothers me. I normally call the non-emergency number on the rare occasion I need to talk to the police about something... could be as simple as a stray dog! No need to tie up 911 for no reason!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

It really depends what level of safety you require (and are willing to pay for). I have a few health conditions, and there's even a nice big red "PATIENT CODES EASILY" message that pops up when they pull up my records in the ER. For me, I picked up Vonage to save money on calls AND provide an additional route to emergency numbers. That said, I'm using it as an additional route, not primary. I still have land-line and cell phones for my primary emergency access. Voip proved itself down here in both 2004 & 2005 with hurricanes taking out landline service. If you were lucky enough to have landline service still functioning, chances were that it had been severely crippled and you weren't going to connect calls outside of your neighborhood, and most certainly weren't going to get any long distance through. Cell towers took a beating and only had battery power for so long.

So, it's all a matter of risk & expenses... what are your security needs and how much are you willing to pay for it?

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hookbill
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Am I the only one old enough or does anyone remember when 911 didn't even exist. No E911. Just dial "O".

I'm not saying we're not better off with 911, just that there was a time that it wasn't even around. You would have had to give your name and address just like those of us who do not have E911.

It's a crap shot, and when you sign up for Vonage your suppose to be aware of what might happen.

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firewall
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

You are right Hookbill, and today the bigger problem is cell phone usage of 911. In CT there are tier 1 cell phones that will give the E911 operator the location of the "tower" they are hitting.Tier 2 phones will give the GPS location although in our experience this has not always been perfect. People with On-Star also give GPS locations to the center. Cell phones have come along way however it is still the responsibility of the user to know where they are.

In my opinion Vonage has accomplished far more in one year then cell companies have in five. Any Voip customer should be savvy enough to know that Voip is still in its infancy and there will be growing pains. Every 911 center has regular business lines, users should know these numbers for their PSAP and/or local authorities.

I actually think the biggest danger is people who travel with their phones. I could easily see people calling 911 while visiting Vegas because they saw an accident occur outside of their hotel room.Imagine the 911 operator in Florida (for instance) trying to figure that one out. In CT ANY 911 hang-up or unauthorized call requires a police response to the callers address. So if you dial 911 by mistake while you are on vacation you may come home to find the police have broken into your house fearing you were unconscious inside!!
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colesch
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I'm with you on the just dial 0. But I'm curious if this guy really had important files or music that he deemed worth saving, that he might have opted for a security service like adt. Then again, what about backups. Even my mom backs up her pc, heck my grandparents are in their middle 80's and they know better, because I'm invited over to backup their stuff.

Beyond 0, I have backups for backups, and none of them include landlines since I deem them fairly unreliable. I have amatuer radio equipment, both a base station and a mobile, then at least 4 handhelds. I'm always talking with folks, so god forbid if I couldn't reach 911 on the cell or the operator, I could radio in a distress call.

And what about the fire department, if you get put on hold, while your house is blazing, what was he thinking while he was on hold? [hmm, so when this fire is done consuming my PC, I need to run to the store and signup for Vonage, so I can complain that their 911 services failed me while my house was on fire. ] I would have hung up and called the fire department, both the police, fire, non emergency and 911 are speed dials.

Nothing has really changed over the last 10 years except now we have added a speed dial for 911. If you are really concerned with how fast 911 works, call it and make sure your info comes up. Just like you check your smoke detector, call 911 the same day you check to make sure your smoke detector works.

Its one thing to think about safety first, and another to disregard it all together and assume the system will pick up the pieces.

-The greatDL,
Vonage Customer since 2003

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