Category: News & Media

Should you call 9-1-1 for COVID-19? Probably not.

Should you call 9-1-1 for COVID-19? Probably not.

The announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of questions to go unanswered, but your local governments and agencies are doing their best to get you useful resources. We’ve put together a resource page for our communities to help you get access to the vital information you and your loved ones need.

Emergency services may not be at the top of your mind right now, but if you experience a life-threatening emergency during the COVD-19 pandemic, we want to make sure you know what to expect. There are a few steps your local Public Safety Answering Point, PSAP or a 9-1-1 center, may have taken to protect themselves, the first responders, and you.

First, it’s important to note that 9-1-1 is part of critical infrastructure. That means the services it provides are crucial to the safe functioning of your community. You might recognize emergency services as part of critical infrastructure, but other community components like public works, trash collectors, public health, transportation systems, water supply services, and more are all part of critical infrastructure. Because of this, these resources cannot close down due to a pandemic, or for any reason at all really, and they must take certain steps to protect themselves and you.

At the recommendation of the CDC, 9-1-1 agencies have taken certain precautions to protect the health and safety of their telecommunicators so that they may continue to provide life-saving assistance. These precautions might include:

  • Public Safety Answering Points may be locked down to essential personnel.
  • Callers may be asked screening questions such as: are you experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever or cough? Have you traveled out of the country with the past 14 days? Have you been in contact with someone who may have traveled out of the country within the past 14 days?
  • A focus on PPE, personal protection equipment, for first responders.
  • Routine calls may not receive a visit from an officer and reports may be taken over the phone.

What precautions are utilized will depend on the individual law enforcement agency. As of yet, we have not seen a huge increase in 9-1-1 calls since the pandemic announcement, however it is important that citizens continue to use this emergency service responsibly. We put together a quick FAQ to help our citizens better understand when it is appropriate to dial 9-1-1.

Should I call 9-1-1 if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

No, only if life threatening. Telecommunicators don’t have the best resources to assist you with handling symptoms. The best person to call is your health care provider. They’ll direct you with next steps. Or, look into getting tested.

Should I call 9-1-1 to report neighbors/friends/family members with COVID-19 symptoms?

No. There is no need to report those around you who may be showing symptoms. By calling 9-1-1 to “report” people with symptoms, you are tying up the emergency number lines and preventing those in actual emergencies from receiving the lifesaving help that they need.

Should I call 9-1-1 if I run out of supplies?

No, but you can dial 2-1-1 to get assistance for essential services.

Should I call 9-1-1 if I have questions about the coronavirus?

No, but you can dial 2-1-1 to reach a 24/7 coronavirus help line or visit 211texas.org.

Pay attention to your local news and follow the suggestions and instructions of your local leadership. By working together and following the guidance of our health care professionals, we’ll be able to get back to normal sooner.

How To Become Compliant With Kari’s Law

How To Become Compliant With Kari’s Law

In December of 2013, Kari Hunt Dunn was stabbed to death by her husband in a motel room in east Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter repeatedly tried dialing 9-1-1, but the motel phone required “9” to be dialed to reach any outside line, including emergency services. This event launched Kari’s Law, which requires all organizations or businesses that utilize a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) to provide direct access to 9-1-1. Businesses must become compliant by February 16, 2020, however the federal version of Kari’s Law only applies to MLTS that will be installed after this deadline. If your business is within the state of Texas, however, all MLTS must be compliant or require a waiver.    

It is the responsibility of the business or organization utilizing the MLTS to maintain compliance. Texas was the first to pass a state version of this law, and compliance for all Texas organizations (or a waiver detailing why compliance) was required by September 1, 2016. If you’re struggling with next steps and how to become compliant to Kari’s Law, we can help. We’ll discuss what we learned in Texas over the past few years on our journey to compliance. 

How to become compliant with kari's law

Find Out Your Current Status

Before you do anything, you have to know where you stand. Contact the provider of your MLTS and ask them how they’re set up to reach 9-1-1. Specific questions you can ask include:

  • Do you offer direct access to 9-1-1?
  • Is your service compliant with Kari’s Law?
  • When did you become compliant? Or when will you become compliant?
  • Have you tested your system to ensure direct access to 9-1-1 is available?

If your MLTS provider is already compliant, then your work is almost done. If you can’t get any of these questions answered, you can contact your local 9-1-1 authority for advice on next steps. NCT9-1-1 is your 9-1-1 authority if your business is in our service area, but if you’re not sure who your authority is you can contact your local police or sheriff’s office by their 10-digit emergency number.  

Test Your System

If your MLTS provider confirms that their service offers direct access to 9-1-1, you shouldn’t just take their word for it. You need to test it. Contact your local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) by their 10-digit emergency number and let them know you’re interested in testing your MLTS and ask what time and day would work best for them. When testing, don’t stop at confirming direct access into 9-1-1. Ensure that your provider also meets the standards of the Ray Baum’s Act and that a dispatchable location is also provided. That would mean a room or officer number is provided to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator, for example. 

What Happens If You’re Not Compliant? 

February 16 is the deadline for compliance for all organizations across the United States. Those who fail to become and stay compliant may face fees or fines, liability concerns, or, most importantly, are risking the health and safety of its employees and customers. 

Kari’s Law was inspired by a horrific event. Don’t wait to meet compliance and risk your place of business becoming the setting of the next one. 

 

Sources

https://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/tip/Test-your-PBX-and-phone-system-for-Karis-Law-compliance?elqTrackId=d5393cb5cae54d65b0078b42cd4ac22d&elqaid=11026&elqat=2

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-353961A1.pdf

https://news.avaya.com/us-cp-kari-law-reg

http://www.texas911.org/

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #009

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #009

ARLINGTON, Texas, January 28, 2020 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) will graduate 16 9-1-1 telecommunicators from its Regional Telecommunicator Academy (RTA) Class #009 on January 31 in Arlington. This class includes recruits from 12 different agencies, including Dallas ISD, the Mineral Wells Police Department, and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, among others.

 

The graduating recruits will have completed a rigorous four-week program that teaches equipment use, state mandates and regulations, how to handle emergency communications situations such as activeshootings, and more. Texas is the only state in the country that requires its telecommunicators to be licensed alongside peace officers and jailers, and NCT9-1-1 hosts the only 9-1-1 telecommunicator academy in the state. The district welcomes recruits from outside its region to participate and this year includes participants from Dallas ISD.

 

“At the academy, we’re not just training people to fill positions,” said NCT9-1-1 Training Coordinator Bret Batchelor. “We’re building a community of resiliency and comradery with our recruits. I want them to walk away with the skills to not only be successful at their new jobs, but to build a lifelong career as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator and to one day pass on their experiences to the next generation of dispatchers.” 

 

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

 

What: Graduation Ceremony for Regional Telecommunicator Academy Class #009 

Where: 600 Six Flags Drive Suite 226, Arlington, TX 76011 

When: January 31, 1:00 PM

Why: Celebrate the graduation of 16 new telecommunicators in North Texas

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About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District

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 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.

Your Old Phones Can Still Call 9-1-1

Your Old Phones Can Still Call 9-1-1

The proper amount and protocol for “screen time” has been a hot topic and often debated issue in parenting circles for a while now. Especially since technology has continued to affect every part of our lives. We at NCT9-1-1 aren’t here to pick a side — just to let you know that those old phones can still call 9-1-1. 

What is a non initialized phone call? 

As we near the end of 2019, NCT9-1-1 has started to pull some statistics on what 9-1-1 looked like for our region over the past year. The data we pulled included how many calls were made, how many were wireless versus wireline, how many texts to 9-1-1 occurred, the amount of abandoned calls, etc. One piece of data stood out to us: the number of non initialized phone calls. 

“Non initialized call” is industry jargon for a call made with a cell phone that is not connected to a calling service. Your old cell phones collecting dust in your kitchen junk drawer can still call 9-1-1 as long as it can be charged and turned on, though they do not provide a location or a call back number. This capability has saved lives in the past (an infamous example being the case of the Turpin children in California, whose daughter rescued herself and her siblings by calling 9-1-1 with a deactivated cell phone). 

However, few parents know that their old phones have this ability, and this leads to a huge amount of false calls to 9-1-1. Out of the 985,878 attempts to reach 9-1-1 in January to September in 2019, about 14% were from deactivated cell phones. Though a handful of these calls may have been legitimate 9-1-1 calls, the data is still skewed.

What should you do with your old phones?

If you’re not going to give your old phones to your kids to play with, what should you do with them? You can dispose of them properly or donate your old cell phones to a local women’s shelter where they will be utilized as untrackable, direct-to-9-1-1 devices. You can also keep your deactivated cell phone charged and in a central place in your home to use during an emergency.

Remember that when you give your old phone to your toddler, that phone can still call 9-1-1. If your child does happen to accidentally dial 9-1-1, the best thing you can do is stay on the line and explain the situation to the telecommunicator.