Compass:Love that smart phone - but keep your landline

Why is it most emergencies happen at night? I can remember driving to the emergency room at midnight with my 6 month old who could barely breath. And now... "what's your emergency?"

I tell the responder the emergency, but I am grateful that I do not have to tell them my address. Since I was calling from a landline phone the information was all there. All I had to do was confirm where I was. I bounce between checking on the person with medical needs, unlocking the front door, and putting the dog in his kennel, all through the foggy muddle of panic. Then we wait, but we don't have to wait for long.

In just a few minutes the emergency responders are here, assessing the situation calmly, and quickly rendering aid.

The emergency had a happy ending, something for which I am truly grateful. I am also grateful to the emergency responders calmly assisting me on the phone, and the paramedics who came into our home and helped us there.

And I am grateful I had a land line, a seemly out of date convenience that made this emergency all that easier to endure. We have considered cutting our land line several times. Like most people, my husband and I both have cell phones, and we would save money by disconnecting the land line and opting for cell phone coverage only.

Emergencies were the main reason we got cell phones in the first place. When you call 911 on a cell phone the call goes to the emergency call center associated with the cell tower the phone is using. The dispatcher receives the address of the cell tower, and from there tell the broad direction from which the call is being made from. But it could take another 20-25 seconds until they have specific coordinates, and at times those coordinates aren't exact, and the information isn't always available.

When you are not home, the convenience of calling 911 wherever an emergency happens is amazing, but when you are home would a landline be a better option?

When you call 911 dispatchers from a landline or a VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) your address pops up on their screen, right down to the apartment number. Not only is this great if you can't talk in your emergency, but great for young children who know how to call 911 and don't know their address.

A landline is also vital in power outages and other major emergencies where a cell phone may not be working, making an old fashioned corded phone a necessary tool to keep on hand.

We still debate cutting the landline, but for now, we're going to keep it, for emergency's sake.

Telaina Muir is a children's book writer and illustrator. She lives in Eagle River.