OCT. 31 — The Coast Guard this month asked all cell phone service providers to discontinue the option for callers to dial *CG to request emergency assistance while on the water.
Boaters should use VHF radio as the primary way of making a distress call, the Coast Guard says in a news release. Calling 911 from a cell phone should be done as a secondary option.
Until the service is completely discontinued the Coast Guard also has asked cell phone providers to reroute *CG calls to local 911 operators, the agency says in the release. The exception to the change is in Alaska where the *CG service will remain active because all of the calls are routed to one emergency line.
The *CG feature was introduced in the early 1990s by some cell phone companies, the release says. As cell phone technologies evolved some companies continued the service. Others did not. This “confusing patchwork” of service has added significant delays in Coast Guard responses, the agency says.
For more information visit the Coast Guard’s search and rescue program Web site.
— Jason Fell