LINCOLNTON, N.C. When you call 911, you assume the dispatcher can find your location and quickly send help.

But that was not the case this past weekend when a family called 911 after their son got tangled in a basketball net and nearly hanged himself.

The boy is recovering but investigators say there was a delay in pinpointing the incident and that delay may have been the fault of the type of phone service the family was using.

If you call 911 from a traditional home phone, the address pops up right away. But not if you use a cell phone.

Rick Ellis is the director of 911 in Lincolnton and he said, Depending on the phone that you are using and the carrier you use, it could take up to 20 or 30 seconds before we get that location.

That is because cell calls are routed through cell phone towers and if a tower is near a county line, the problem gets worse.

Some sectors could be routed to our county. Some sectors could be routed to adjacent counties, which would in turn cause a delay in processing because the adjacent county will have to transfer back to us, Ellis said.

When the family of the boy called from their home on Long Shoals Road, investigators first thought it was a cell call, routed to adjacent Gaston County.

Now, however, investigators say they think the family was using a relatively new technology called Voice over IP (VoIP).

With that technology, a voice is digitally transmitted by computer. No traditional landlines are used.

Ellis said, There have been cases where we have problems with routing from Voice over IP providers. It s a lot better than it was in the beginning with Voice over IP, but there are still some issues.

Lincolnton now averages some 3,500 calls to 911 each month and of those, 73 percent, on average, are from mobile phones are some other technology.

Ellis says that is why it is now more important than ever for callers to quickly and clearly say exactly where they are.

It makes our job a lot easier. We re not on the provider to deliver us your location. You are giving it to use directly, he said.

The father of the boy was able to free him from the net and start CPR until help arrived.

He is now in stable condition at CMC Charlotte.
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