Category: News & Media

Press Release: North Central Texas 9-1-1 Provides Hurricane Relief to Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

Press Release: North Central Texas 9-1-1 Provides Hurricane Relief to Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

ARLINGTON, Texas, September 2 – The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1), which serves as the headquarters for the Texas Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) state program, deployed two 9-1-1 telecommunicators today to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana for 14 days. The relief comes after the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida strained the parish’s resources and caused catastrophic damage to the community, according to their Facebook page. The deployed TERT members are licensed 9-1-1 telecommunicators employed by the Bedford Police Department and NCT9-1-1.

TERT members will work onsite at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and assist with the duties of 9-1-1 call takers and radio dispatchers. This provides relief to Lafourche telecommunicators who will have the opportunity to visit and assess the damage to their homes, check in on loved ones, and mentally recover from hurricane response efforts. 9-1-1 telecommunicators often work around the clock during disasters, sometimes living at their PSAPs for multiple days, and TERT programs around the country are utilized to support these agencies.

screen shot tert
TERT member Michael Martin of the Bedford Police Department, Texas TERT State Coordinator Jason Smith, and TERT member Brittney Burross of NCT9-1-1.

“TERT is who 9-1-1 calls when 9-1-1 needs help,” said Texas TERT State Coordinator Jason Smith. “State programs exist all over the country to provide support due to wildfires, hurricanes, or other disasters. 9-1-1 is often the first piece of critical infrastructure brought back after an incident, and the stress 9-1-1 telecommunicators experience as the first point of contact in their community’s recovery is significant. TERT provides necessary support to an unseen part of disaster response.”

Texas TERT is part of the first deployment phase and is partnering with eight members of Florida TERT to provide a total of ten 9-1-1 telecommunicators to support the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. If a second phase is needed, TERT members from the Tennessee and Georgia state programs will be sent. Texas TERT was established in 2007 and has responded to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Ike, and assisted during Hurricane Isaac.

 

###

About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1)

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these PSAPs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring PSAP functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.

 

Christy’s Corner: Innovation Is Not Just About Technology

Christy’s Corner: Innovation Is Not Just About Technology

Innovation is commonly defined as the creation, development, and implementation of a new method, idea, product, or service.  It is an idea that has been transformed into practical reality.  I would add that it is achieved with a positive outcome.  For me, innovation is revolutionizing 9-1-1 by enhancing the service we provide the public, improving safety for our field responders, and providing new tools for our telecommunicators.

There are officially four types of innovation and I believe 9-1-1 hovers between disruptive and radical innovation.  We have done things the same way in 9-1-1 for years and years.  Proven, reliable technology and 9-1-1 systems that were designed and built in 1968 still exists in most areas of our country today.  It was apparent several years ago that 9-1-1 needed disruptive innovation, which involves applying new technology and processes to our industry.  The changes being made today by early adopters in the 9-1-1 space could also be considered radical innovation as the changes have given birth to a whole new way of processing and delivering 9-1-1 requests for assistance.

It is my experience in 9-1-1 that when you talk about innovation, people immediately think of technology.  In fact, I have focused on technology in my educational and awareness activities for the past several years.

Technology can be used to implement innovation, but the technology itself doesn’t produce innovation.  In recent years the 9-1-1 industry has placed so much emphasis on technology that we sometimes lose sight of the reasons why humans create new technologies in the first place.  Certainly with 9-1-1, that reason is to help people, save lives, and make a difference.

While I continue to champion the new technologies in 9-1-1 that will solve problems, I also want to support the greater definition of innovation by focusing on the people.  I learned many years ago that we can implement the latest and greatest technologies in the PSAP, but if the telecommunicators don’t use the new technology or don’t use it properly, there has been no gain or positive outcome.  If the public doesn’t know how to contact 9-1-1, we have failed in our mission.   It is time for this industry to focus on the people side of innovation by engaging our users, getting buy-in, enhancing our hiring and training practices, focusing on wellness and mental health, and pouring into our employees so they understand how they fit into the big picture.  Let’s give them a sense of value and pride knowing they are part of something great.  And it doesn’t stop with our telecommunicators.  We need to educate our field responders, decision makers and yes, the general public.  It’s time to focus on the human side innovation and recognize:

Technology + People = Success

Where is 911 now? How NCT9-1-1 looks to the future

Where is 911 now? How NCT9-1-1 looks to the future

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the history of 911 innovation and the phases the industry has gone through to accommodate new technologies. As an early adopter, the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District is at the forefront of innovative development. We push for the type of technology that improves the day-to-day tasks of 911 telecommunicators and is beneficial to our public. Here are some of the projects that we have our eye on.

We’re Going Vertical

During my first year at NCT9-1-1, a co-worker told me the story of a time when they received an open line 911 call but were unable to locate the caller. They eventually identified the apartment complex the call was in but couldn’t figure out what the unit number was. The 911 call taker instructed the firefighters to run up and down the stairwells and hallways shouting as loud as they could, and she was able to identify the caller’s location by listening for them on the other end. They found the caller, who was experiencing a medical emergency and couldn’t speak, and got them the medical assistance they needed.

This is the story I think of when I talk about z-axis. Currently, 911 maps are able to identify the y and x-axis points and use GIS data to present an approximate location of the caller. But this is 2D information. If a caller is in a multi-floor building, like an office or apartment complex, the 911 call taker won’t be able to tell which floor they are on. The Federal Communications Commission recently released a mandate that requires z-axis information with an accuracy of 3 meters to be available to 911 telecommunicators for 80% of calls.

The NCT9-1-1 GIS team were already thinking about the future of 3D mapping before this mandate came out. They’ve been collecting the necessary data to build 3D models of critical infrastructure, which includes places like schools or government buildings.

Let’s Get Social

During disasters that see a high amount of 911 traffic, it’s difficult to ensure all the calls get through. During Hurricane Harvey, local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs or 911 call centers) noticed a high amount of calls for help through a different service: their social media platforms.

Since social media accounts aren’t typically monitored on a 24-hour basis by first responders, this created a buzz in the industry. How can PSAPs keep track of social media when they’re already overwhelmed with 911 calls?

NCT9-1-1 has partnered with university researchers to find out. Research has been done or is being written on what would be required to make social media a useful tool to 911 telecommunicators and not an additional burden. Questions like how to filter out true calls for help from spam or noise, what technology to use to present this information on consoles, and what kind of standard operating procedures and policies would need to be deployed are already being asked.

Don’t Forget About the People

Technology is important, and innovative technology gets us excited about the future, but NCT9-1-1 believes in staying grounded on our purpose: saving lives and making a difference. That means we can’t just innovate for innovation’s sake. We have to provide useful tools to 911 telecommunicators and life-saving technologies to our public.

Our director, Christy Williams, believes in a people-first approach to innovation. Remembering the actual human beings who will be using this technology should be the foundation of every project. Change is difficult, especially if your job is to save lives. We don’t believe in adding new technology just because it’s cool and flashy. There is a careful process to make sure any new technology that is invested in and implemented is useful. By focusing on the 911 telecommunicators needs, we ensure that changes will make a difference in saving lives.

The Only 9-1-1 Academy in Texas Will Graduate 13 New Telecommunicators During North Texas 9-1-1 Staffing Shortages

The Only 9-1-1 Academy in Texas Will Graduate 13 New Telecommunicators During North Texas 9-1-1 Staffing Shortages

ARLINGTON, TX, August, 3, 2021 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) will graduate 13 new 9-1-1 telecommunicators from the Regional Telecommunicator Training Academy on August 6 in a virtual ceremony. These recruits join the industry during a significant staffing shortage of 9-1-1 telecommunicators in North Texas. The recruits of class #011 represent agencies from across the region including the Balch Springs Police Department, Collin County Sheriff’s Office, Seagoville Police Department, and more.

The graduates completed a rigorous four-week program that taught 9-1-1 equipment use, state mandates and regulations, as well as how to handle crisis communications such as active shooters. They will graduate after taking the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) State Licensing Exam. Texas is the only state in the country that requires its 9-1-1 telecommunicators to be licensed in the same line as peace officers and jailers and was the first state to reclassify them from administrative professionals to first responders.

“They’re joining the industry during unprecedented times,” said NCT9-1-1 Training Coordinator Bret Batchelor. “The pandemic has changed a lot, and they’ll have to adapt quickly as it continues to affect the day-to-day roles of first responders. The chances of burn out only increase when working in that kind of high-stakes environment. But I have confidence that they all have what it takes to excel at this career.”

The academy has graduated recruits from across Texas and Arkansas since its inception in February 2016 and continues to grow with classes held twice a year in the winter and summer.

Class Photo of RTA #011
Class photo of Regional Telecommunicator Academy Class #011

###

About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1)

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these PSAPs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring PSAP functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.