Heroes Day Event To Honor Public Safety Personnel

Police officers, firefighters, military personnel, sheriffs, EMS workers, 911 dispatchers and other “blue” officials are truly “everyday heroes” in both our community and nationwide.

According to Lackawanna County Commissioners Jim Wansacz, Patrick M. O’Malley and Edward G. Staback, this year’s fifth annual Heroes Day is set for Saturday, September 19, from 11 am to 2 pm at the County’s 911 Center, Valley View Drive, Jessup.

The Scranton Police Department will be participating in the event and selling t-shirts with the proceeds benefitting the family of the late Officer John Wilding, who was fatally injured in the line of duty earlier this year.

At the event, safety, disaster, road and SWAT equipment from throughout the County will be on display along with booths for residents to pick-up literature that they can utilize when the need arises.

The day will include free refreshments, entertainment, giveaways, tours of the 911 Center, and children’s activities.  The event is being sponsored by the Commissioners, District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Emergency Services, Conxx, SkyPacket Networks, and Purosky & Tuckerman.

Jeff Thomas, a prevention specialist in the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Office of Drug & Alcohol Programs, will discuss the importance of proper medication disposal to safeguard the environment and to reduce the access of prescription drug abuse at 12:30 PM.

Canines and the Mounted Unit from the County’s Sheriff’s Department and the public safety units of area municipalities will be at the event.  Valuable information on County services and the programs offered by area community and social agencies will also be available.

Several antique emergency vehicles will also be a part of the program along with a variety of children’s activities.

The following organizations, along with their equipment, will be in attendance:  Tanker 15 from Elmhurst/Roaring Brook, Command 93 from Old Forge, Moscow’s Rescue 7, the Peckville Smoke House and Ladder 20, Unimog 24 from Greenfield Township, Engine 5 from Dalton, the Pennsylvania State Police, Decon Team, Commonwealth Health Ambulance, and Pennsylvania Ambulance.

The County’s DARE Program and SWAT Team will be on site along with the 911 Mobile Command Post and EMA vehicles, COLTS, the Bookmobile, and the following County Departments: Voter Registration, Parks & Recreation, Veterans Affairs, Community Relations, Drug & Alcohol Office, Highway Safety Program, the IT Department’s Wireless initiative, Environmental Sustainability Office, Area Agency on Aging, Roads and Bridges, and the Coroner’s Office.

The Pennsylvania National Guard, Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, and Wills For Heroes will also be at the event.

The Penn State Extension will have displays featuring the Master Gardeners and 4-H programs along with its mini golf course.

For further information, contact Gerard Hetman, the County’s Community Relations Coordinator, at 570-963-6743, ext. 1872.

Lackawanna County’s Emergency Services Department Activates State-Of-The Art Next Generation 9-1-1 Call Handling System

Lackawanna County continues to live-up to the slogan “Innovation Starts Here.”

Lackawanna County is the first County in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to place into service a fully integrated, Next Generation 9-1-1 call handling system for its Department of Emergency Services.

“Here is another piece of technology that we can offer to communicate up-to-the-minute details that will impact people’s lives.  It will allow residents to report any emergency incident, such as motor vehicle accidents, fires, natural disasters and medical emergencies,” said Commissioner Corey D. O’Brien.  “This will save valuable time and enable our Emergency Services staff to dispatch help or information quicker.”

“The Text to 9-1-1 program is another example of how Lackawanna County stands out as a leader in advanced technology.  This innovation is a tremendous addition to our Emergency Services Department because it offers a quick and easy way to report a major incident and get the necessary assistance to the crisis or medical situation,” explained Commissioner Jim Wansacz.

“The system is a tremendous addition to our emergency services programming,” said Commissioner Patrick M. O’Malley.  “It gives us the ability to receive vital emergency information that can help us to save lives and provide assistance quickly.”

“By implementing end-to-end, NextGen 9-1-1 ready solutions and integrating text and voice call handling, we immediately begin to improve our call-handling capabilities, streamline operations and speed up emergency response,” said David M. Hahn, Director of the Lackawanna County Department of Emergency Services. “We are dedicated to the advancement of 9-1-1 in Lackawanna County to better serve our more than 214,000 residents.”

The call handling solution will offer superior 911 call handling, more efficient workflow management, and new capacities such as Text to 9-1-1.  It is highly reliable and streamlines voice and data operations. Lackawanna County will achieve greater efficiency and have the ability to receive text messages, which can be an essential lifeline in situations where a voice call cannot be made safely.  This is especially significant when the caller cannot communicate verbally, such as the case of residents that are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired.  Text to 9-1-1 could also assist in situations when a caller is either injured and unable to speak or when a crime is in progress and cannot talk.

Mr. Hahn stressed that even though Text to 9-1-1 is available, the best way to contact Emergency Services is still via voice communications.

The directions on how to Text to 9-1-1 in an emergency are as follows:

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.
    • The first text message to 911 should be brief, concise and contain in simple words the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
  • Push the “Send” button.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
  • Abbreviations should not be used.

A few important guidelines should be noted to those using Text to 9-1-1.

  • Text location information is not equal to current location technology.
  • As with all text messages, 911 messages can take longer to receive and can get out of order.
  • Text-to-9-1-1 is not available when you are roaming.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a Text to 9-1-1
    • If texting to 911 is not available in your area or is temporarily unavailable, a message will be sent telling the individual to contact 911 by other means.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911 at the present time.
    • Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than one person.
  • As always, the public is encouraged to never text and drive!

Mr. Hahn stressed that Text to 9-1-1 is for emergency calls only, and text messages are handled as if they were voice calls.  They are recorded, logged, and maintained for months. Once the 911 system is activated via Text to 9-1-1, subscriber information, GPS location and phone number are logged in.  A crank or a false text message is handled as if it were a false or crank voice call.  Police will be contacted to investigate.

New 911 Simulcast System For Police Calls Is Up & Running

A cost-efficient, state-of-the-art broadband network, providing law enforcement with greater reach and crisp, clear communications is up and running in Lackawanna County.

Commissioners Corey D. O’Brien, Jim Wansacz and Patrick M. O’Malley announced that the 911 analog conventional three-channel simulcast system for the police radio calls is live.

“This radio system is a tremendous asset and upgrade for Lackawanna County. It has enhanced our public safety officers’ capabilities by providing radio service into areas that experienced transmission difficulties,” said Commissioner Jim Wansacz. “The new signal will not only help to save lives, but also provide vital services much faster and efficiently.”

“The new police radio system is a tremendous resource. It shows to businesses looking at our area and local, state and national authorities that we are on the cutting edge of technology by utilizing our wireless network to deliver this service,” explained Commissioner Corey D. O’Brien. “It is also saving the County thousands of dollars because we are no longer using telephone lines for radio transmissions.”

“This radio system is all about providing better service to the public in times of emergencies. It is about saving lives and getting information out to police so that they can do their job,” said Commissioner Patrick M. O’Malley.

David M. Hahn, Director of the County’s Department of Emergency Services, stated that this radio project has taken over two years to complete. The system was completed in late September and placed into service.

“All three County police channels were rebuilt from the ground up. We have added several strategically located radio sites in various locations throughout Lackawanna County to ensure radio service to all Police Departments in the County. We hope to do the same with the County’s Fire and EMS channels very soon,” Hahn noted.

The police radio project was funded by a $500,000 COPS grant, which could only be used for law enforcement related initiatives.

Three County police frequencies were rebuilt and new radios, receivers and more sites were incorporated. This undertaking has provided radio signals to hard-to-reach areas, enabling law enforcement officials to better assist the public and get back-up and other assistance quicker when needed.

The County’s wireless network plays a prominent role in this venture. The wireless system is used to communicate through the radios. No phone lines are used, saving the County money.