Elected officials are bringing “next generation” emergency communication technology to the region, and that benefits everyone who finds themselves in an emergency and the first responders sent to help.
The Union County Commissioners voted to join the internet-based “Next Generation 911” (NG911) system last week and Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said his board was planning to vote on the plan this week to integrate the technology into the Central Susquehanna Regional 911 Center, which serves all of Union and Snyder counties and the northern portion of Northumberland County.
NG911 essentially upgrades 911 centers to enable the free flow of information and data people normally share with each other through their mobile and digital devices, such as voice, images, videos and texts, across emergency communications channels. It also forms a digital network linking individual 911 communications centers together so they can seamlessly assist each other in the event of mass casualty emergencies or natural disasters.
With this new system in place, people reporting emergencies will be able to send digital information, such as text messages, photos and videos to the 911 center, which can immediately forward this and other data to emergency responders. The enhanced data sent to first responders could also include critical health information received from wearable medical devices, or readouts from vehicle computers and building alarm systems.
“Now all of that intelligence in a NG911 world will be able to dispatch immediately,” said Dia Gainor, executive director of the National Association of State EMS Officials. That translates into faster and safer responses and enables emergency personnel in the field to make more informed decisions.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is overseeing the development of NG911, and it’s part of a broader effort to develop nationwide interconnectivity of emergency communications systems. The National 911 program is housed within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Emergency Medical Service.
It all makes sense. People are using their phones and other mobile devices to gather and share information with each other every second. With this enhanced 911 system in place, some of that data will inevitably become instrumental in saving people’s lives.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.