Many people are choosing to ditch landlines for cell phones but if you have an emergency and need to call 911 it could come at a price of personal safety.

In Hamilton County, approximately 20 percent of calls to 911 are made from landlines. The rest, 80 percent, come from cell phones. 

If you’re one of those callers, dispatchers may have a hard time locating you. 

Hamilton County 911 Executive Director John Stuermer says emergency centers across the country are facing the same problem. The system wasn’t built for cell phones and most calls for help no longer come from landlines.

“That was a very reliable and maintained database but with cell phones, we’ve moved away from that and we’ve moved to where we had to have that location of that phone from the carriers,” Stuermer told Channel 3. 

Stuermer says often times dispatchers can verify an address with the caller before they get information from the cell phone.

But what if the caller doesn’t know their address?

Stuermer says it’s a real problem, especially when the call comes from inside a large building like an apartment complex or a mall.

“Any call we get from inside of a building using our current technology is slow and it’s very unreliable. A lot of times it doesn’t even put us in the same area that the call is coming from,” says Stuermer.

Channel 3 put it to the test and used two cell phones from two different carriers to call 911 from inside the emergency center on Amnicola Highway.

The first call places us just outside of the building on the sidewalk.

The next call puts us on a nearby street.

Both times it took approximately 10 to 15 seconds to find us.

But apps with GPS can locate you with a touch of a button.

Next, we ordered an Uber to our exact location.

The driver had no trouble finding us.

A few seconds may not seem like a big deal but in a life or death situation, those are critical seconds emergency crews aren’t coming to help you.

The FCC says by 2021 all wireless carriers must give more accurate location data.

Channel 3 reached out to the wireless industry group CTIA to ask what’s been done to improve the accuracy of locating emergency calls made from cell phones and here's what they told us:

"For more than 20 years, wireless 911 location technologies have helped public safety professionals save lives. CTIA and our member companies are excited about the potential for commercial location solutions to enhance 9-1-1 location accuracy. We will continue working collaboratively with the FCC and the public safety community to look at any new technologies that can further enhance 9-1-1 location accuracy, especially indoors.”

– Matthew Gerst, AVP of Regulatory Affairs, CTIA.