The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 4, 2013

Northumberland County considers 911 line for hearing impaired residents

By Francis Scarcella and Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — A Northumberland County commissioner wants to ensure that the hearing impaired will be able to make phone calls to 911 in case of an emergency.

Commissioner Rick Shoch told Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy that over the weekend Shoch had a conversation with Point Township Police Chief Josh Van Kirk about an idea Van Kirk had to help improve 911 calling for hearing impaired residents.

“Josh called me and we discussed having a cell line that was just for the deaf community,” Shoch said.

Van Kirk said, “I’m glad the idea seemed to be well received. I thought the most logical solution to this would be if we could get a phone line at the com center specifically devoted to getting text messages from qualified disabled individuals.

“It wouldn’t be too expensive, maybe $30 a month for the dedicated line and it wouldn’t be for everybody. Not just anyone could text to this line. It wouldn’t be a mainstream device and I see this as a lifeline for people with communication disabilities.”

Commissioners were in agreement with Van Kirk’s idea and voted on Tuesday to look into the process of setting up the phone line.

Northumberland County would be the first to county in the Valley to set up the line.