How many times have you heard sailors-of-life say they are getting a cellular phone just in case of an emergency? Allow me to state for the record, that you do not need to purchase a $60.00 US a month wireless plan to make a 911 call in an emergency. The FCC has taken steps to make sure that all cell phones are all programmed with a specific number so even if they are not on a service plan, they can be used to dial 911 in an emergency. Many individuals think that they must have a service plan in order to dial 911 on a wireless phone and be connected with emergency services. This is simply not true .
Let us first define the word emergency; an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action or an urgent need for assistance or relief. Thus, if you are out sailing, an emergency arises, (Running out of your favorite alcoholic beverage does not qualify as an emergency shipmate!) and the marine radio that you never used, tested, or learned how to use, is not functioning properly… fear not. You kept that ‘old cell phone’ plugged in and charged under the consol. It does not matter that you no longer have a service provider. If you can get a signal, you can, and will be, connected to the closest 911 Emergency Call Center, who will in turn, switch you to the US Coast Guard.
This, of course, also translates into any situation that should arise when you are on shore leave. Leave the old cell in the car and plugged into the power jack. When, and if, the need arises to dial 911 in an emergency, the FCC has seen fit not to leave you high and dry. You will, as long as you can acquire a signal from a cell phone tower, be able to contact the local 911 Emergency Call Center.
For complete and additional information on this topic visit the National Emergency Number Association Wireless Page.
For additional legal proceedings on the topic:
FIFTH REPORT AND ORDER
CC Docket No. 92-105
FIRST REPORT AND ORDER
WT Docket No. 00-110
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION
CC Docket No. 92-105 and WT Docket No. 00-110
FCC TAKES STEPS TO IMPROVE THE ABILITY OF PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES
TO ASSIST WIRELESS CALLERS USING NON-SERVICE-INITIALIZED PHONES