Considerations When Using 9-1-1

  1. Cell Phones
  2. Locality
  3. VoIP

Craighead County, Arkansas, is home to nine municipalities - Bay, Bono, Brookland, Caraway, Cash, Egypt, Jonesboro, Lake city and Monette as well as several other small unincorporated communities. Each of the municipalities has its own political and geographical boundaries, and most have separate fire, emergency and law enforcement agencies.

These multiple political and geographical boundaries have a direct bearing on how the Jonesboro 911 system works, especially when a call to 911 is made from a cell phone. Despite the Jonesboro 911 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) answering calls for the entirety of Craighead County, cellular calls are often not automatically routed to the proper PSAP because the wireless signals travel beyond municipal and sometimes county boundary lines. In many cases, a 911 caller may need to be transferred to the proper agency in the area. That is why it is imperative that anyone who calls 911 from a cell phone tells the dispatch exactly where he or she is, and, if possible, what city/community the call concerns. The Jonesboro E-911 Center frequently receives calls from callers in Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett Counties and has to transfer those calls to those PSAPs for service.

For example, a person in distress on White Road in Poinsett County calls 911 from a cell phone. The cell signal is routed to the closest cell tower, which is located a short distance away - but inside Craighead County. As a result, the call is routed to a Jonesboro E-911 dispatcher, who has limited information on where the caller is since the call was made from a cell phone.

If the caller cannot provide specific location details, including the fact that they are in Poinsett County, then it is highly likely that the call could be routed to the wrong emergency response department, which means that emergency response could be delayed.