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.