Category: News & Media

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring break is often a much-needed break from the stress of your everyday life.  For some that means rest and relaxation, but for others spring break means taking a trip.  An essential part of enjoying spring break is making sure everyone stays safe. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Watch the weather so you are prepared and can go to a safe place fast.
  • Stay hydrated and healthy, especially if you are in the sun or participating in physical activities.
  • Always protect your things by locking valuables in your trunk or hotel safe.
  • Don’t overshare on social media and consider changing your privacy settings during your trip.
  • Use the buddy system.  Stay close to friends, and make sure everyone is always accounted for.

 

In addition to these tips, it is very important that you are aware of your location in case you have an emergency and need to call 9-1-1 for help.  The 9-1-1 call center may have your location based on the call and their maps, but it is not always available or accurate.  The 9-1-1 telecommunicator may count on you as the caller to answer questions to assist the first responders in locating you.  Know your surroundings and pay attention to street signs and landmarks.

Some 9-1-1 call centers, including those in the North Central Texas 9-1-1 region, have adopted what3words to complement existing methods of validating caller locations.  A free app, what3words, has divided the world into 10ft squares and given each square a unique three-word identifier.  This is especially useful when you are on a body of water, trails, fields, parks or any other location that does not have roads and 9-1-1 addressing.  Loading this free app will allow you to plan in advance if you will be in an off-road area.  If there is an emergency, simply open the app, press the location icon and read out the what3words address to the 9-1-1 telecommunicator.   For more information about what3words, visit what3words.com.

 

Having what3words isn’t just for emergency reporting though.  It can also be a good way to share a meet up place with friends or even plan a scavenger hunt for your spring break staycation.  Enjoy your time off but remember to be safe.  Using these simple tips and a little bit of planning can make your spring break a big success!

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #012

Press Release: Regional Telecommunicator Academy Graduates Class #012

ARLINGTON, Texas, March 4, 2022 — The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) will graduate 18 9-1-1 telecommunicators from its Regional Telecommunicator Academy (RTA) Class #012 on March 4 in Arlington. This class includes recruits from 7 different agencies, including Terrell PD, Wise Co SO, Greenville PD, Waxahachie PD, Ellis Co SO, Collin Co SO, 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 active shootings, 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 Irving PD.

 

“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.    

       

About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these ECCs 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 ECC functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.

Can I text 911? Depends!

Can I text 911? Depends!

Yes, you can text 911! In certain areas at least. The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) was the first to introduce text-to-911 in Texas, and many other 911 authorities or individual agencies have implemented the service as well. But we still receive a lot of questions about texting 911, so we’ve highlighted some of the frequently asked questions we get. 

Where Can I Text 911?  

Text-to-911 is available in some parts of the country. It is estimated that about 20% of the country has implemented text, but it is still a widely unknown service even in activated regions. The communities in the NCT911 service area have been able to text 911 since 2013, but we still see that about 85% of people reaching out to 911 do so with a cell phone using voice. 

Find out if your area has text-to-911 here (Embed: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/what-you-need-know-about-text-911). 

How Do I Text 911? 

Texting 911 is the same as texting anyone else. Just open your text messaging app, enter “911” into the send field, and type out your message. When texting 911 it’s important that you include your location information in that first text so 911 telecommunicators can dispatch help to you as soon as possible.  

You also need to include the type of emergency service you need, such as police, fire, or EMS, and give the 911 telecommunicator a description of the emergency you’re experiencing. For example, a text to 911 might read: 

“Help, I’m on the corner of Main Street and Wallaby Way, we need police and a paramedic. I just witnessed an accident.” 

If text-to-911 is not available, you will receive a bounce-back text requesting that you call 911 instead. 

When Should I Text 911? 

For now, the best way to reach 911 is with a voice call. However, if you are unable to call or if it is unsafe for you to call, you can text instead if the service is available in your area. We recommend calling when you can over texting because 911 telecommunicators use background noise to help build situational awareness, and it prevents a delay in communication when speaking rather than texting.  

Remember: call if you can, text if you can’t. 

Do you know all the wireless emergency alerts in Texas?

Do you know all the wireless emergency alerts in Texas?

In the last legislative session, Governor Abbot passed House Bill 103 which requires the creation of an active shooter alert system. This new law brought attention to the lesser known wireless alerts out there, and we wanted to create a quick, easy-to-use guide for anyone wondering about the different type of alerts out there. 

AMBER Alert 

The AMBER alert is the one that most commonly comes to mind when discussing wireless alerts. This alert was established in 1996 after the kidnap and murder of Amber Hagerman. The alert is named for her but is also an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. 

Criteria for activating an AMBER alert include: 

  • The child is under 17-years-old. 
  • The child is in immediate danger. 
  • Law enforcement has confirmed an abduction and eliminated any alternative explanation for the child’s disappearance. 
  • There is sufficient information to describe the child, suspect, or vehicle to distribute to the public.  

Blue Alert 

The National Blue Alert Network maintains blue alerts in 39 states. Blue Alerts allow law enforcement officers to effectively locate suspects who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal officers.  

Criteria for activating a Blue Alert include:  

  • A law enforcement officer has been killed or seriously injured by a suspect. 
  • It has been determined that the suspect is a threat to the public and law enforcement. 
  • There is sufficient information to describe the suspect’s vehicle or license plate tags. 
  • The investigating law enforcement agency requests the activation of the alert. 

Camo Alert 

The Camo Alert system was established in Texas in 2019 and is designed to locate a missing current or former member of the United States armed forces. Unlike other alerting systems, a military member must register to be included in the Camo Alert program. This includes providing a letter from a physician confirming that the military member has a verified mental health concern.  

Criteria for activating a Camo Alert include: 

  • The military member is registered for the Camo Alert program and has a verified mental health concern. 
  • The individual is confirmed to be a current or former member of the United States armed forces, or the National Guard, or a reserve or auxiliary unit of any branch of the armed forces. 
  • The disappearance is a credible threat to the military member’s health and safety or the health and safety of others. 

CLEAR Alert 

CLEAR Alerts were established by the Coordinated Law Enforcement Adult Rescue Alert Program by Texas legislation in 2019. It was designed to “close the gap between missing children and senior citizens.”  

Criteria for activating a CLEAR Alert include: 

  • The name CLEAR is an acronym of victims who could have benefitted from its use: Cayley Mandadi; D’Lisa Kelley; Erin Castro; Ashanti Billie and the Rest. 
  • The missing individual is between 18 to 64 years. 
  • A preliminary investigation confirms the adult is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death, or the disappearance is involuntary. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual, a suspect, or the vehicle used in the incident. 

Endangered Missing Persons Alert 

The Endangered Missing Persons Alert was created in March of 2000 after 17-year-old Gabriel Lester went missing and his remains were found four months later. 

Criteria for activating an Endangered Missing Persons Alert include: 

  • The missing person can be of any age but must be diagnosed with an intellectual disability or pervasive developmental disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, etc. 
  • Confirmation that an investigation has taken place and that the disappearance poses a credible threat to the missing person. 
  • A written diagnosis from a physician or licensed psychologist in the state of Texas or the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services or Texas Department of Health Services is provided to law enforcement. 
  • The request for an Endangered Missing Persons Alert was made within 72 hours of their disappearance. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual. 

Silver Alert 

The Silver Alert program was created in 2007 as a response to notify the public of missing older adults with a documented mental condition.   

Criteria for activating a Silver Alert include: 

  • The individual is 65 years or older. 
  • The senior citizen has a diagnosed impaired mental condition and poses a credible threat to their own health and safety. 
  • The family or legal guardian of the missing individual must provide documentation of their medical or mental health condition. 
  • The investigation has confirmed the individual’s disappearance is due to their impaired mental condition. 
  • The Silver alert was requested within 72 hours of the senior citizen’s disappearance. 
  • There is enough information to help locate the individual. 

Active Shooter Alert System 

The Active Shooter Alert System is one of the most recent alerting programs to be introduced in Texas. It was established after the passing of House Bill 103 on September 1, 2021. The law requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to activate an alert system if there is a report of an active shooter within a 50-mile radius. It also requires the Texas Department of Transportation to utilize roadway signs to alert the public of an active shooter near them.   

Criteria for activating an Active Shooter Alert include: 

  • An active shooter is in the requesting agency’s jurisdiction. 
  • Agreement that an active shooter alert would assist individuals. 
  • The presence of an active shooter can be verified. 
  • The active shooter’s location can be verified.