The 9-1-1 system in California is about to get a major overhaul.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1564 into law on Monday.
The bill was authored by Assemblymember Das Williams, (D) Santa Barbara.
The bill states that a 9-1-1 call from a cell phone be routed directly to a local dispatch center.
Currently, depending on the cell phone carrier, 9-1-1 calls are routed to a cell tower with multiple antennas.
In some cases, if an emergency call is made in Santa Barbara County, calls are routed to a California Highway Patrol office in Ventura, nearly 30 miles away.
The issue was affecting response times and causing confusion for emergency crews.
Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy has been leading the charge for change and said when the new law is implemented it will save thousands of lives.
McElroy points to the case of Santa Barbara resident Jordan Soto. On, January 30th, 2014, Soto’s parents found her unresponsive and called 9-1-1. Dispatchers sent firefighters to the wrong address. They finally arrived 22 minutes later. The 24-year old mother died.
“We want the Soto’s to realize that we didn’t forget Jordan and we are pushing back as hard as we can and we’ll see where it takes us,” McElroy said.
The new law will require the Office of Emergency Services to work closely with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), local agencies, and the wireless industry to take the appropriate steps to overhaul the 9-1-1 system.
“Public safety agencies are going to have to start getting involved and understanding how this affects their jurisdiction and ask to see their data to see where their calls are going,” McElroy said.