"The chief of the Federal Communications Commission's wireless bureau turned to his cell phone in crisis when trapped for more than two hours, dangling in a mountain gondola buffeted by storms. John Muleta leaned on the technology he oversees when he and Robert Pepper, an adviser to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, got stuck in the gondola Monday. The two had used a break in a telecommunications summit to see a different summit -- the top of 11,212-foot-high Aspen Mountain.
Their sightseeing trip turned into an ordeal when the gondola service shut down during their return from the top, stranding them in an enclosed vehicle about two-thirds of the way down the mountain, Muleta said Tuesday. Ride operators didn't realize they were still coming down, he said. The men called for help on their cell phones. While the FCC officials waited for rescue, brief but strong storms blew through the area, tracing lightning flashes above the mountains. The gondola swayed in the wind.
Muleta said the 911 operator apparently did not have the latest "enhanced" 911 technology and could not locate him precisely, even though his cell phone uses global positioning technology. But, he said, he was able to direct authorities to his location. "That's why we take E911 so seriously," Muleta said. "It affects all of us. It's not just something that happens to other people. It happened to us.""
On one hand, this kind of thing is a good argument for why we need to see more government investment in rolling out E911. On the other hand, it's also a good argument for why gondola operators should do some investing on a way to track whether or not they have a gondola stopped half way up a mountain. :roll:
This brings up an interesting discussion topic though: Have you ever been in a situation where having a cell phone saved you from danger? Would E911 have helped? Share your stories!