When an inmate escaped from the Armstrong County Jail, tips from community members helped track the man's every move. In less than 48 hours, he was back behind bars facing new charges.
In July of 2015, an inmate who was granted special privileges for good behavior took advantage of the opportunity and escaped from the jail. The inmate was outdoors awaiting the arrival of a food truck when he disappeared.
While the escapee was on the run, he murdered a woman and stole two of her vehicles, according to 9-1-1 Coordinator Ron Baustert, who works for the Armstrong County Dept. of Public Safety.
"Quick capture may have prevented an untold number of other people being killed," Baustert said.
As soon as word regarding the jail break hit the community, the Armstrong County Department of Public Safety's 9-1-1 communication center received dozens of calls with tips as to the man's whereabouts.
According to Baustert, each of these tips taken by dispatchers was immediately entered into the county's computer aided dispatch (CAD) software.
This information included addresses and locations where the escapee was spotted, the description of the vehicle he stole while on the run and locations of where vehicles that matched that description were spotted. This information was stored digitally and accessible by all dispatchers so that each had access to the details of the CAD narrative in real time.
"It was important we had this information and the ability to enter it in quickly so we could share it with law enforcement officers in our community," Baustert said.
The man was ultimately captured when a 9-1-1 caller reported that the man had knocked on her door asking for help. The woman refused to offer help and instead called 9-1-1. At that time, the man fled in his stolen truck.
Local police quickly spotted the vehicle and were led on a short chase. The escapee then lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a police cruiser. He was apprehended and taken back into custody.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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