By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

ST. ANTHONY (WCCO) — When Andrea Peel felt what she thought were the symptoms of a heart attack, the software manager did what anyone is taught to do. She called 911. However, she would have never expected them to have trouble finding her.

Her call on the morning of Jan. 17 was routed into Ramsey County’s emergency communications center in St. Paul. The 911 dispatchers there would be responsible for sending an ambulance and police. And since Peel was calling for help using a cell phone, it was imperative to confirm her exact location. Even with modern GPS technology, cell phones aren’t as easily traced as the conventional land line.

“I said, ‘I’m in Hennepin County, in St. Anthony,” she said. “And when I said ‘St. Anthony’ it confused her and she said,’you’re in Roseville.’ ‘No, I’m in St. Anthony.'”

Immediately, the young woman knew there was something confusing about her location. While she was reciting the building’s address correctly, 3055 Old Highway 8, it wasn’t showing up correctly on the 911 center’s computerized mapping system. The dispatcher handling the call initially placed Peel’s location in Roseville, not St. Anthony.

The confusion is immediately apparent when performed on a mapping search using Google, Yahoo or any other mapping software. A simple web search will reveal the address in at least four other Twin Cities locations.

With each passing second, Peel became more frustrated and concerned, saying, “she (911 operator) didn’t seem to have any idea where I was.”

Part of the confusion can be blamed on the fact that the property is intersected by the Hennepin and Ramsey County border. The building itself along Old Highway 8 sits entirely within Hennepin County. However the parking lot is partially within Ramsey County.

Furthermore, the area’s street numbering system is seriously out of sequence, as pointed out by the head of Ramsey County’s Emergency Communications System.

“In one or two cases we do have on both sides of the border the exact same address of house or building number on both sides of the line,” said Emergency Communications Director Scott Williams

Williams says the problem with Andrea’s confusing call can be blamed on the nearly identical address further up the highway.

“We had a match for the address range that was in Roseville that was close to where the caller verbally said she was,” said Williams.

The communications center’s computer aided dispatching software has now been fixed to plug this so-called “black hole.” And fortunately for Andrea, help arrived without delay. But she wants to make sure any future 911 calls from the building don’t lead to costly confusion.

“What about somebody in the future, that’s what I was thinking,” said Peel. “I was fine and I didn’t pass out. But what if somebody else did and they couldn’t find them?”

Williams added that 70 percent of all 911 calls are now made on a personal cell phone. Despite GPS technology on most smart phones, pinpointing the caller’s location remains a huge challenge for emergency dispatchers.

Comments (9)
  1. haha says:

    And John, you wonder why you had to wait 45 min.

  2. Ej says:

    John, you call also depends on the nature of your emergency. Was it something life threatening or did you just need to file a police report?

  3. Tabitha says:

    I live in this area and the article is right, the number system is out of sequence and the 5 way interesction near by is extremely confusion. Not sure if they can do anything now, but it might be in the best interest to renumber it.

  4. JamieinMN says:

    really?!?!!? Come on john, this isn’t all about you. YOU cry me a river, ya big baby.

  5. monica says:

    Wow, they must have deleted John’s comment, wish i could see it, you guys are giving it do him, lol

  6. Nancy says:

    I work in that building & have tried everything to get our location corrected in Goggle etc.
    One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re going somewhere look up their directions on their website. Anything else could be wrong!
    Many people coming to our building get lost further north on Old Highway 8. I always know just where they’re calling from when they are lost.
    Something should be done, now that public safety is involved.

  7. miahmdparash says:


    It’s a nice article it will help my research.


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