After a tragedy that made headlines nationwide, the city of Cincinnati is vowing to overhaul its 911 dispatch, because of an emergency response failure.

It's a gut-wrenching story. A teen called 911 twice, begging for help, when he became trapped in a minivan.

The child used Siri to call 911, but died waiting for help, after police were unable to locate him in the parking lot of his school.

An investigation into the tragedy showed police stayed in their cruiser to cover more ground. They weren't given key information from the 911 call, and problems with the automated system meant dispatchers didn't hear everything the child said.

The city is promising to overhaul it's 911 dispatch, by adding more training and additional staff, and later this year, to send mapped locations of where calls originate from, to police cruisers.


So, we wanted to know more about the GPS technology, used at Erie County's 911 center.

Could such a tragedy happen here?

911 Coordinator Kale Asp, said they use GPS location technology on a daily basis.

They can narrow down a 911 caller’s location, by triangulating cell towers, but the center can always get a more exact location, from the wireless provider, “Basically when the person calls 911 that information is provided directly from the wireless provider to our agency, in addition if that person is moving or their device is moving, we can request an update and update it instantly,” said Asp.

Asp adds that situational awareness is also key, even more important than relying on technology to get a caller’s location. He says technology will never take the place of getting a good location, or landmarks, directly from the caller.

Asp says Erie County Telecommunicators get five to six weeks of classroom training, followed by six to eight weeks of on-the-job training.

Erie's 911 Center also has the ability to send a caller's GPS location, directly to first responders in their vehicles, while they are in the field.