Fire rescue demonstrates E911 system capabilities

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It is an example of the system working perfectly.

Two Marshall police officers and a Saline County Sheriff's Deputy received awards for their actions in saving the life of a Marshall man from a burning building Dec. 20.

But what hasn't been known is how the county's E911 system helped get the officers in place to save wheelchair bound man from the fire.

Like most emergency calls, the call came in by cell phone, said E911 Director Stacie Smith. Landline calls provide an address for 911 operators. Cell phone calls first provide the location of cell tower processing the signal.

The 911 operators re-plot the cell phone calls using what is called "phase two" mapping or GPS locating equipment.

The re-plot showed the cell phone at a house on South Grant Avenue.

When officers arrived, they knocked. The residents answered: No fire there.

Just over forty feet away, in a room with flame and smoke, a wheel-chair bound man answered a return call from 911.

More cries for help came through the phone.

The line disconnected.

The officers searched the surrounding area and located the home on fire. Then they saved the man.

According to a press release issued by MPD at the time, the officers saw flames inside the home and were unable to reach the person through the front door due to heavy smoke and flames. They broke the window and rescued the man through a broken window. One officer received minor injuries to his hands in the process.

Marshall firefighters arrived on scene in just 43 seconds.

"I listened to the radio traffic," said Jesse Coslet. "We had everybody awake and turning out when we were toned."

Prior to the phase II system, the man may well have died. Phase I only provided a general area, about nine miles in diameter.

Smith agrees, saying, "This is an example of the system working as it is designed."

About 75 percent of all calls to 911 are made through cell phones.

Contact Patrick Nolan at

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  • That's great to see the system working. And in such a lifesaving way.

    -- Posted by AnneD on Tue, Jan 4, 2011, at 4:27 PM
  • Saving this one life makes all the money spent worth while!!!

    -- Posted by Takealoadoff on Wed, Jan 5, 2011, at 8:27 AM
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