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Obtaining an accurate location for mobile 9-1-1 callers has been one of the most pressing challenges the public safety community has faced in recent decades. 

The nation’s legacy 9-1-1 infrastructure makes it difficult for 9-1-1 to receive fast, accurate caller location for calls from mobile devices. That means more than 80% of 9-1-1 calls nationwide require telecommunicators and first responders to manage the emergency with often limited location data. This creates unnecessary delays and in many cases can make response impossible if the caller cannot speak or does not know their location.  

To address challenges with locating mobile 9-1-1 calls, Google and RapidSOS announced a partnership in September 2018 to deliver life-saving 9-1-1 caller location information to public safety agencies nationwide. Today, we’d like to share a detailed case study of how faster, more accurate location from RapidSOS and Android ELS saved the life of a 9-1-1 caller with a medical emergency in Prince William County, VA. 

“We are grateful for the heroic efforts of the Prince William County public safety communications responders that saved Jeremy’s life, and for our partnership with RapidSOS.” 

-Nandini Kappiah, Director of Engineering at Google. 


Emergency Response for a Patient with an Asthma Attack

On April 6, 22-year-old Jeremy Schmeltzer experienced an allergic reaction that led to a severe asthma attack. Unable to breathe, Jeremy’s speech was severely impacted and he was incapable of relaying his address to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator handling his call. 

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Prince William County Public Safety Communications uses RapidSOS Portal, a free tool for agencies to manage emergencies with data from connected devices. While Jeremy was unable to communicate his address, the dispatcher was able to utilize Android ELS location data, available through the RapidSOS Clearinghouse, to pinpoint his location. She dispatched first responders, who knocked down the door and administered emergency medical care for Jeremy. 

Due to the heroic work of the 9-1-1 telecommunicator and first responders, as well as the technology partnership between Google and RapidSOS, Jeremy was located and saved with moments to spare.

“Our Fire and Rescue System forced Jeremy’s door down based exclusively on the Android ELS location data available from Google and RapidSOS. This was especially notable considering that he was within a row of identical townhouses, which would require door to door searching if it was not for the new technology,” said Eddie Reyes, Director of Public Safety Communications at Prince William County. “Myself and all personnel working on this incident feel certain that if this technology had not been available, this situation would have resulted in a fatality.”

Life-Saving Location Data with Android ELS

Google’s Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) is a supplemental service that sends enhanced location computed directly from Android phones to emergency services when a 9-1-1 call is placed. Android ELS is available on 99% of existing Android phones and does not require the user to install additional applications. This location data is delivered to 9-1-1 centers in the U.S. via the RapidSOS Clearinghouse, a secure source of emergency data that is offered as a free service to every public safety agency nationwide.

Beyond Location: 9-1-1 Data Challenge

The two largest mobile device providers, Apple and Google, have worked with RapidSOS to solve the 9-1-1 location challenge. But this is only the beginning of the evolution to modern, data-driven emergency response. Connected devices collect sophisticated data that can be life-saving during emergencies. Rich data from the Internet of Things allows public safety telecommunicators and first responders in the field to provide faster, better prepared emergency response – and even detect and predict emergencies before an individual can call 9-1-1. 

Today, RapidSOS is working on addressing the 9-1-1 data challenge. To learn more about our work with public safety agencies around the country to make the future of emergency response a reality today, talk to an expert.