Pennsylvania Suburbs Implement 911 Text Messaging - News - @ JEMS.com


Pennsylvania Suburbs Implement 911 Text Messaging

Four counties begin to have technology ready for use in 2015


 
 

JESSICA PARKS, The Philadelphia Inquirer | | Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Soon, residents in the Pennsylvania suburbs will be able to reach 911 dispatchers by text message.

Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Berks Counties agreed Thursday to jointly implement the new technology. Montgomery County officials, who are administering the regional effort, hope to have it up and running by early 2015.

That will require new equipment and software and, more important, training dispatchers how to handle emergencies reported in 160 characters or less.

"There are plenty of times when the person who needs assistance does not want to be overheard, when a telephone call is not a good idea," said Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. "Talking is better, but we don't want to alert a bad guy, if somebody is hiding or whatever."

Besides helping victims of kidnappings or home invasions, 911 texting would be useful for people who are deaf, mute, or experiencing a speech-disabling issue such as a stroke.

The dispatchers will be able to respond, ask questions, and converse via text message. But in most instances, officials say, calling 911 would still be faster and more precise.

In January, the Federal Communications Commission recommended that all counties and cellphone providers enable 911 texting. A scattering of counties have jumped on board, but so far, Indiana is the only state with widespread access.

In May, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile agreed to provide the service to customers nationwide.

In Pennsylvania, Allegheny, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, and Luzerne Counties and the City of Allentown can receive texts, according to an FCC list. A spokeswoman for Allegheny County said dispatchers have handled 110 emergency reports via text message since the program launched in May.

The expansion highlights a legislative problem that county officials have been decrying for years: Funding for 911 systems comes from a landline-access fee. But fewer people have landlines, and more calls are coming from cellphones, which pay no fees.

That leaves counties to pick up more of the tab. Last year, for example, Montgomery County paid more than 59 percent of the $11 million cost of its 911 system.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is providing a grant to get the system running in Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, and Chester. After that, the counties will again pick up the bill.

jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

Mobile Category: 
News


Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, texting 911, communications, 911

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Advancement

This is the seventh year of the EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program, jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Salt Lake City Firefighters Injured in Firehouse Fire

Nine sent to a hospital with smoke inhalation.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Pennsylvania Paramedic Killed in the Line of Duty

West End Ambulance medic killed at accident scene.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wesleyan Students Hospitalized for Overdose

11 students transported to local hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Rigs Going in Service from EMS Today 2015

Snap shots of some of the vehicles at EMS Today that will be on the streets soon
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Florida Hospital Fire

Fire halts construction project at Tampa cancer center.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >