Despite problems in the early days of wireless telephones, when you make an emergency call there’s a good chance the dispatchers who answer that call can tell where you are. “Mo” Warford is a regional manager for Iowa State Patrol communications who began as a dispatcher herself, answering emergency calls and sending out troopers. Reached on the road this week, Warford said they even take calls from drivers complaining about other motorists on the road.”Yes, we do,” she says. With a little bit of common sense, the communications centers encourage drivers to call in anything along the road that looks suspicious or dangerous. While cellphones aren’t a tool to get people in trouble, Warford says they don’t mind getting reports of dangerous or erratic driving. They’ve had reports of a child holding up a sign that says something like “Help me.” She says you sometimes can’t tell if that weaving driver really is drunk or impaired — or if the child isn’t just playing around and really has been abducted. She says you should keep in mind all the time having an awareness of where you’re at, in case you should have a sudden mishap, or see something you want to report to authorities. There’s also the problem of accidentally pushing those buttons, which can happen to any cellphone owner. Warford says you may not know one of its features: On many phones, pressing any button continuously for several seconds will cause it to automatically dial 911. A driver may toss the phone into a person or wear it where a seatbelt presses it, and they may not even know it’s called the local emergency communications center, tying up a line there. Warford oversees State Patrol dispatch centers in central, south-central, west and southwest Iowa and spends a couple days a week on the road managing their operations.
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