The Call Blog

New World Public Safety The Call

The Call


True stories from dispatchers, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel who use New World public safety software to help them save lives, protect communities and increase efficiency

Spotlight on The Call

In the fast-paced world of public safety, it's easy to miss out on stories you wanted to read and videos you meant to watch. Take a look at some of these stories and videos on The Call and catch up on some things you might have missed including the following:

Our readers want to hear stories from your agency. Submit your story!

A Look at Fire Stats in the US

This article is part one in a four-part series on fire responses and the roles of firefighters in the US
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In the United States, a fire emergency is reported on average every 23 seconds.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), that statistic encompasses everything from structure, home, outdoor, unclassified, and vehicle fires.

To understand the scope of fire emergencies in the US, it's important to understand the anatomy of a fire department.

Fast Facts About Fire Stations in the US

According to the NFPA, there are 58,750 fire stations in the US, which consist of the following:

  • 29,727 fire departments
  • 1.1 million firefighters
    • 30 percent of firefighters are career firefighters
    • 70 percent of firefighters are volunteer
  • 71,800 pumpers
  • 7,300 aerial apparatus
  • 79,050 suppression vehicles

In addition to fighting fires, many of these fire departments also offer specialized services including vehicle extrication, public education, specialized rescue, fire investigation, advanced life support, hazardous material removal, in-house training, and intervention programs.

The Role of Firefighters in the US

When a fire emergency is reported to 911, career and volunteer firefighters are alerted by dispatch and quickly respond to the incident. While career and volunteer firefighters are equally responsible for responding to fire, medical, traffic, and other emergencies throughout the country, in some cases volunteers adhere to a different set of guidelines or qualifications.

This difference in guidelines could mean these individuals can only respond with senior-level or career firefighters, however, they are instrumental in a fire response.

To find out more about the role of firefighters in the US, subscribe to The Call and follow our series on fire responses and firefighters over the coming weeks.

Multiple Bridge Outages Cause Dispatchers to Reroute Responders

When a bridge goes out in a community, dispatchers work even harder to route first responders to the scene of an emergency. But imagine what happens when numerous bridges are impassable throughout an entire county.

Pennsylvania has approximately 4,500 structurally deficient bridges, which will be repaired or replaced though the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. While this is necessary, it does present a problem for dispatchers and first responders.

According to Ron Wolbert, the director of 911 operations for the Clarion County Office of Emergency Services, numerous bridges in Clarion County are in the process of being repaired or replaced.

"The bridge project has created new and interesting challenges for dispatch procedures," Wolbert said.

In one area of the county, primary responding agencies have been cut off from access to the areas they serve. To ensure the residents in this area still receive proper emergency services, response plans in the county's CAD system were reconfigured.

Now, the county's CAD system reassigns response areas and temporary alarm assignments for all responders in the impacted location. To do this, response times, access from adjoining townships and boroughs, and the availability of resources had to be factored in. These areas were then assigned roadblock areas on the county's CAD map and labeled and highlighted on screen for easy recognition by dispatchers.

"Dispatchers not only see the highlighted areas on their digital maps, but a labeled description advising of the exact procedures that need to be followed for a timely response," Wolbert said. "I can say the ease of use of the system, coupled with the many features we can utilize, has made the construction that comes with the bridge projects more manageable and not allowed it to become a disaster in our 911 center."

Watch: Dispatchers Discuss Reliability in CAD software

The Role of Dispatchers Behind the Scenes

There is a significant amount of work required behind-the-scenes in every emergency response, and it all starts with computer-aided dispatch (CAD).

When a call for service comes in to a 9-1-1 communication center, dispatchers immediately get to work sending a response. From there, first responders head out to provide assistance in whatever manner they are needed. But that doesn't mean the dispatchers' role in the response ends.

For instance, when officers respond to a call for service, they stay in contact with dispatchers at the communication center using their mobile data terminals (MDTs) located in their vehicles.

Read more about the behind-the-scenes work in public safety agencies: Police and Dispatchers Work Together to Capture Criminals in Greenbelt, Maryland

By staying in contact, dispatchers are able to route first responders to the scene and attach real-time updates about the call for service that first responders can see using their MDTs as they travel to the incident.

CAD systems with automatic vehicle location (AVL) functionality offer additional benefits as they provide dispatchers and first responders the ability to see where all first responders' vehicles are located on a digital map.

With AVL, a global positioning system (GPS) is set up on an agency's mobile server and configured so GPS data is sent to the mobile software located in an officer's vehicle. This signal is also sent to other units within the agency and to dispatch. To do this, AVL technology constantly sends latitude and longitude coordinates back to the CAD system so that the unit's location is always known by the agency's dispatchers.

AVL functionality helps dispatchers with routing as it helps direct patrol officers to the location of a call for service and provides continuous estimated time of arrival (ETA) data. By knowing where all first responders are on the map, CAD managers are able to help ensure communities have a robust level of patrol in all areas.

While the work of dispatchers happens outside of the public eye, they play a vital role in emergency responses and providing public safety to communities everywhere.

Increasing Efficiency with the Greenbelt Police Department

A Look at Next Generation 911

Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) is a hot topic for public safety agencies across the United States.

This initiative, which was set forth by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), is aimed at updating 9-1-1 services to accommodate a growing wireless society. It consists of numerous stages, all of which should be completed by 2020.

Until that time, public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the country will be preparing to adhere to guidelines set forth by NENA so they will have the ability to handle modern, mixed media messages from the public.

Text-to-911 is one of the first steps many PSAPs are undertaking along the NG 9-1-1 journey. As TTY (text telephone) services are phased out, the deaf and hearing impaired community will need a way to communicate with emergency services. Text-to-911 will replace TTY services, so it is imperative all PSAPs throughout the country are able to receive, handle and respond to these messages.

As of late 2016, less than 15 percent of PSAPs in the U.S. have the ability to accept text messages.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911

However, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves for NG 9-1-1 and its various phases so they are prepared when all guidelines are established.

Once all guidelines are in place, PSAPs will have the direction to receive voice, text and data sent over IP networks from various communication devices.

Important Facts to Remember About Next Generation 911

This article is the final piece of a six-part series on Next Generation 911.
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

Prepping for Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) is something many people working in public safety answering points (PSAPs) are doing on some level.

This initiative set forth by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) to replace 9-1-1 emergency services and make it possible for 9-1-1 communication centers to receive modern mixed media messages including texts, videos and live streams.

While those working in emergency services throughout the United States are aware of this initiative, here are some key points to remember.

A Brief History of Next Generation 911

In 2000, NENA started laying the groundwork for what would become NG 9-1-1. The goal for this initiative was to get public safety answering points (PSAPs) to adhere to guidelines so that they would have the capability of handling modern mixed media messages.

This initiative reflects the way in which communication is carried out now through smartphones and other communication devices. By creating guidelines and standards for PSAPs to follow regarding the acceptance of different types of messages, emergency services will be aligned with the communication technology used in today’s world.


Text-to-911 is the first step along the path to NG 9-1-1. As of October 2016, less than 15% of PSAPs nationwide have the ability to accept text messages; however, this is one part of the NG 9-1-1 standards that PSAPs are able to implement.

Text-to-911 works by connecting a text message through a text control center (TCC) to the appropriate PSAP for the general area in which the text was sent. Emergency call takers at the PSAP receive the message and respond back via text message.

One of the obstacles to overcome with text messages is that they do not provide accurate location information, so emergency text call takers are required to get more details to send help.

Those who send in a text for help will know if their text was received because a message will be sent back almost immediately. Anyone who sends a text message to emergency services who lives in an area where the messages cannot be received will be sent a message saying that their area does not yet handle text messages and to call 9-1-1.

Why Do We Need This?

The NG 9-1-1 initiative was developed to help guide PSAPs as they adopt technology necessary to communicate using modern mixed media. It will also help the 36 million people in the United States who are deaf or hearing impaired and using text-telephone (TTY) services now to communicate with 9-1-1.

TTY services are being phased out and as a result, the deaf and hard of hearing will need a way to communicate with emergency services. Text-to-911 will provide these individuals with a way to reach out for help.

What Happens Next

As NENA continues to release standards for PSAPs to follow, it is important for these organizations to update technology and determine how they will handle the new forms of communication.

The Facts About Text-to-911

This article is part four of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

Text-to-911 is as simple as it sounds. It means that cell phone users can send and receive text messages to and from 9-1-1 call centers.

This concept generally calls to mind the image of someone hiding in a closet while texting 9-1-1 to say there is a burglar in the house. The reason this person is texting 9-1-1 instead of calling 9-1-1 highlights the need to communicate with emergency services even when speaking could be a problem.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911

Text-to-911 works the same way it does when individuals send text messages to and from one another.

From a technological standpoint, when an individual makes a text call to 9-1-1, the text caller sends a text message to emergency services. That text message is then routed by the person's phone provider (Verizon, Sprint, etc.) through a Text Control Center (TCC) to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP) in the area. Texts are received by a PSAP within six seconds.

Text-to-911 is a part of the National Emergency Number Association's Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative. This initiative is aimed at preparing PSAPs across the country with the technology capabilities to support the modern mixed media that smartphones and communication devices are capable of offering.

What Does Next Generation 911 Mean for my PSAP?

This article is part three of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

To determine what Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) means for each public safety answering point (PSAP) is a bit complicated.

Currently, each PSAP in every community in every state is at a different level of readiness for NG 9-1-1. However, according to standards put into place regarding NG 9-1-1 by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), every dispatcher and call taker is going to be expected to communicate with those in need of 9-1-1 emergency services in more ways than just by voice.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911

This change is similar to what it was like when technology moved away from rotary phones to push buttons phones to phones with no buttons at all. This is a change that reflects how communication has changed and how that impacts all parts of our lives.

Since the sending of text messages is something many if not most people do now, there is a growing conversation among people wondering if they can send a text to 9-1-1. These people also wonder why they can't send a photo message or a video message or a live stream of a crime happening to 9-1-1 now.

NG 9-1-1 makes it possible for everyone to send these types of messages to 9-1-1, and PSAPs will be able to receive these messages, it's just a matter of when.

As of October 2016, each PSAP in the country is working independently to become ready for NG 9-1-1.

PSAPs that are slightly ahead of the game are ready to accept text calls from the community, but this only accounts for approximately 15% of PSAPs nationwide.

Read part four of the series »

When Will Next Generation 911 Be Ready?

This article is part two of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

In the year 2020, public safety answering points (PSAPs) everywhere will finally get an answer to a burning question: When will Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) services be ready?

2020 is the year when the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is expected to determine a definitive date for each PSAP in the country to know what to do to be ready for NG 9-1-1 services.

The reason this initiative is such a lengthy undertaking is because NG 9-1-1 requires PSAPs to connect to new networks and install new digital 9-1-1 systems. NENA is also setting guidelines or standards so that PSAPs throughout the country will all follow similar protocols (however, each PSAP will have the ability to determine the manner in which they handle NG 9-1-1 messages).

While all standards and protocols are not yet in place, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves in some fashion, especially in regards to text-to-911.

Text-to-911 is one of the first aspects of NG 9-1-1 that PSAPs are preparing to handle. It involves PSAPs implementing the capability of handling emergency text messages from the public. Later, PSAPs will be able to handle multi-media messages and live video streams from the public.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911

As of October 2016, the majority of states do report some level of readiness for NG 9-1-1, mostly in terms of handling text-to-911. However, that does not mean that all communities within these states have text-to-911 capabilities. In fact, fewer than 15% of PSAPs across the United States currently are able to accept text calls.

As time goes on, it is expected that more communities will be able to offer text-to-911 services and will then focus on the next phase of NG 9-1-1.

Read part three of this series »

Patrolling Greenbelt Using Data

Increasing patrol in areas of high crime is nothing new for most jurisdictions.

According to CAD Manager Mike Dewey of the Greenbelt Police Department, patrolling crime hotspots is a priority. Ensuring other areas of the city are also covered efficiently is something they do as well through the use of their mapping software.

Dewey said he monitors patrol patterns in real time, which helps to identify areas of high saturation. High saturation can indicate areas known for higher crime rates, which leads to an increase of patrol. It can also show where several police cars are following a response to a call for service.

Being able to identify these areas empowers everyone from supervisors to dispatchers to officers in the field to see where each police unit is located.

From there, officers have the ability to move from areas of high saturation to areas of lighter coverage. This maximizes the police department's coverage of the entire city and provides effective coverage for a community.

"Using the software to watch where officers have been recently allows the shift to function as more of a coordinated unit," Dewey said. "Without this ability, it is much more likely that areas in the community would inadvertently get less efficient coverage."

The mapping capabilities of Greenbelt's public safety software also aids in faster response times. For instance, when a call comes in to the dispatch center but has not yet been assigned, officers in the field can see that the call has been queued up and can start driving in the direction where there is a need for service.

In taking this proactive measure, officers are en route faster and arrive on the scene quicker once the address is provided or units are assigned.

"The capabilities of our software system definitely result in faster response times," Dewey said.

Video: Increasing Efficiency with the Greenbelt Police Department