Learn how OnStar works with First Responders
OnStar has unique features designed to get the right help to the right place in an emergency.
Understand the basics of OnStar
OnStar offers Members with paid memberships 24/7/365 access to specially trained Advisors. These Advisors communicate via a three-button, in-vehicle system that relies on:
The red Emergency button provides a priority connection to an OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisor.*9 After triaging the call, the Advisor may contact an Emergency Communications Center (ECC) based on the incident location. The Advisor can provide the ECC with the exact GPS location and can request fire, police or medical support be sent to the location of the emergency.
GPS and Cellular Wireless Connectivity
OnStar-equipped vehicles are fitted with external cellular and GPS antennas for omnidirectional coverage. This means the signal is not likely to be blocked by pillars or a roof the way they can be with handheld mobile phones. The GPS antenna generally has a clear line of sight to GPS satellites, while the cellular antenna generally has good connectivity to a cell tower.
The OnStar system is embedded and factory-installed in most vehicles, so it’s available and ready to connect to an OnStar Contact Center, assuming power and a cellular signal are available and the service plan and OnStar hardware are active.
Additionally, OnStar understands the challenge that ECCs face in determining the location of a mobile 911 call — but the OnStar Guardian™ app*82 can help:
OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors
OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors are trained extensively to handle all types of emergencies, are EMD-certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED), and our OnStar Call Centers have achieved the designation of Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE). In medical emergencies, Advisors can provide directions to the nearest hospital, perform EMD and provide pre-arrival instructions until First Responders arrive and take over care.
The OnStar EMD process is handled in parallel by two OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisors:
OnStar has a designated medical director for protocol guidance.
OnStar tools and technologies
Location Is Everything
OnStar understands the importance of having the precise location of an incident before dispatching emergency resources. GPS, embedded in-vehicle systems and enhanced location from smartphones provide the location of our callers with street names, alternate street names, latitude and longitude and aerial imagery.
OnStar's mapping data also contains proprietary digital boundaries for primary ECCs across North America to ensure Advisors contact the ECC with jurisdiction for the incident. We update our map data and ECC jurisdictional boundaries and contact information to stay current with changes, and encourage ECCs to contact us with any recently made changes via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Priority Access and Telephony
In the United States, OnStar has the ability to deliver emergency calls to the ECC via the 911 trunk lines. This means verified emergency incidents get to the ECC more quickly and reliably. This method of call delivery is consistent with other emergency calls received at the ECC.
OnStar uses the existing VoIP 911 call and data delivery process to expedite these calls. OnStar calls are telematics-based, not VoIP-based, but OnStar utilizes the existing VoIP-to-ECC infrastructure to minimize any impact on ECCs. OnStar also utilizes the telematics class of service (TLMA), where possible, to provide more context into the call as it arrives at the ECC.
ANI/ALI screens may vary slightly from ECC to ECC because the information is presented using the local exchange carrier format. If there is a discrepancy with the display, please alert the Advisor who will follow up with the database group.
Any problems, boundary changes or test-call requests can be sent via email at: email@example.com.
OnStar has many resources to assist in emergencies, including:
Step inside to access a variety of public safety educational content highlighting OnStar’s emergency services. Explore the virtual exhibit hall, download reference materials, stop by the Auditorium to preview the new OnStar Guardian App and attend breakout sessions about Automatic Crash Response and Vehicle Location Assistance to learn how we can work together.
Experience a day in the life of a First Responder. This exclusive content allows you to hear firsthand accounts of how public safety professionals approach their work — and the many ways they partner with OnStar.