There is heightened interest in implementing text-to-9-1-1 technology at emergency dispatch centers in the US after recent shooting incidents, such as the nightclub killings in Orlando, Fla., where people were texting family and friends to call for help because they could not text their public safety answering point. Federal Communications Commission data show that about 650 of the more than 6,500 dispatch centers in the US can accept text messages.
Yakima County, Wash., is waiting for state Department of Health approval of a new policy that would allow its 9-1-1 dispatch center to automatically send air ambulances to emergency patients located more than one hour away from a trauma hospital. The goal would be to have a 10-minute time between the incoming 9-1-1 call and the helicopter being ready to leave, and Yakima County Emergency Medical Services director Tony Miller said the policy will help save lives.
The Fire and EMS Department in the District of Columbia is considering hiring nurses to determine which 9-1-1 callers need an ambulance, and then using a taxi or a ride-sharing service to transport those who need a physician but not hospital care. FEMS Chief Gregory Dean said the goal is to reduce strain on the 9-1-1 system, which responded to more than 160,000 EMS calls in 2015, many of which were not high-priority emergencies.
Alaska telecom company General Communication, which covers 95% of state residents, has agreed to pay $2.4 million after a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into five 9-1-1 service outages from 2008 to 2016. The settlement will require the company to develop a plan to identify and protect against future outages and to file yearly compliance reports with the FCC.
Verizon Wireless and Samsung Electronics have partnered on a $250 device designed to strengthen weak indoor LTE signals for consumers and small businesses in an area up to 7,500 square feet. The extender, which went on sale last week, handles up to seven devices and features a channel dedicated to 9-1-1 calls.
The Israeli Public Security Ministry and the US Department of Homeland Security have chosen two projects to be part of a joint initiative to develop new technology for first responders. The projects each will include a US and an Israeli company and will develop a precision identification device and an indoor positioning, locating and reporting system.