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How you can help dispatchers locate your phone during an emergency call

How you can help dispatchers locate your phone during an emergency call. (WRGT/WKEF)

MIAMI COUNTY, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) – On Monday, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Cincinnati teenager Kyle Plush. The 16-year-old died while being trapped in the back of a minivan. He used “Siri” on an iPhone to call for help, but dispatchers had trouble understanding him. In the Miami Valley, dispatchers can track your phone, but some systems are more advanced than others. Miami County has one of the newer systems.

It can save you in a pinch, if you're lost and in an emergency, or injured and can't speak.

In the case of Plush, he activated a call to his 911 using the phone’s personal assistant “Siri”. You can do that yourself by turning Siri on in settings. It’s under the “Siri & Search” tab. Turn on “Listen for Hey Siri.”

FOX 45 tried the function to contact the dispatchers in Miami County.

“When your call first came in, it gave us the tower location,” Miami County Dispatch Center Director Jeff Busch said.

The tower can be miles from where the phone actually is. Thirty seconds later, the system pings the phone again, and can locate the longitude and latitude of the phone’s location.

“Usually about a block or so, maybe about two blocks,” Dispatcher Alisha Lancaster said.

Busch narrowed it down further saying it can be within feet.

“As long as the cell phone is allowing its location to be given,” Busch said.

If not, dispatchers can only see your closest cell tower.

So how do you know make sure they can see you? On an iPhone, go to privacy in settings, and make sure the location services switch is turned on. By pressing the volume and power button you can activate “SOS” mode. On older iPhones pressing the power button five times will activate “SOS” mode. Once you swipe the SOS alert on, the phone will call 911 and alert all of your emergency contacts. To learn how to add emergency contacts, or other functions in this story, head here. We have a list of helpful links.

We want to re-iterate Plush did use Siri to call for help, but dispatchers couldn’t pin-point his exact location.

Miami County put in this new system two years ago. The new one allows them to see a cell phone caller’s location before answering the phone. If a dispatcher thinks the caller is in distress, they can hit a button and push the system to find their location faster.

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