ETA Electric Boogaloo:
It turns out that text below the cut is a rare muff by the Urban Legends Reference Pages. The usually accurate Snopes was explaining the difference between the E911 only call and the "Location On" option that's found on cell phones.
As it turns out, they got the difference wrong (or, in reading it over, I think it was misleadingly worded).
: Most modern cell phones sold today have E911, which allows a properly equipped
dispatching center to get your GPS information when you actually dial 911. The "Location On" option pretty much means your GPS position can be tracked at any time, with the cell phone company holding the data.tabrumj
's explanation is backed up on this CNet review of the Audiovox CDM-9500 phone
Apologies for misleading anyone.
Also, big thanks to first_spike
for answering my question about how this same process works outside North America
So, in short, leave your phone on E911. It's more than sufficient to cover your emergency needs (again, provided the answering dispatch center is properly equipped).( Boy is my face red...but I'm preserving it to teach a lesson to myself )