In emergency response, every second matters and law enforcement agencies are always striving to improve response times. Now, a new technology securely livestreams 911 emergency calls directly to first responders, allowing them to obtain more information to make better-informed decisions, respond faster, and save people’s lives.
While 911 call-takers are very fast in their ability to obtain information from callers, there is always a time lapse from when a 911 call is answered, the details are typed and entered into the CAD system, the dispatcher sends info to the radio operator, it is read, airtime becomes clear, and the call for service is broadcast. This process can take 90 seconds to two minutes before an officer even becomes aware of a critical situation.
Of course, time is not often on a first responder’s side and using technology to get a jump on response time would be advantageous. When an officer arrives at a situation that is potentially life or death, shaving off a minute or two of their response time could make all the difference.
The vision for closing the gap between dispatchers and first responders by allowing officers in the field to hear incoming 911 calls came from retired police Captain Fritz Reber. He introduced HigherGround to the concept, and we thought it was brilliant. He chose to partner with HigherGround since our team of engineers and product marketers have more than 20 years of experience developing solution-based public safety software. The resulting solution is aptly called Live911.
Here’s how it works. When a 911 call comes in, Live911 sends it out simultaneously to first responders in the field. Officers hear it as it is happening. They can pre-set a geofence radius, so they only hear the calls near their current location.
When a call is urgent, and they are free to assist, officers can see the location of the caller on a map and move in the direction of the incident—giving them a head start and allowing them to develop a response plan while driving to a call. All the while, first responders are hearing the interactions between the caller and the call-taker, including answers to questions, first-hand descriptions, emotional tones, and background noise on the scene.
Hearing the calls has proven extremely helpful, but the ability to view precise GPS map location—within a couple of feet—where the caller is located can be equally valuable. Officers are able to look on the mapping feature and see exactly where the caller is standing and drive directly to that location without delay.
An initial surprise to us, is that many of our clients continue to tell us Live911 has changed their officers’ perception of telecommunicators. Often officers express an elevated level of respect and even a new sense of protectiveness towards the dispatchers. Now that officers hear call-takers asking the appropriate questions and dealing with intense exchanges, they have gained a better understanding of the hard work they do on every call to ensure the officers’ safety.
Live911 deployments are improving response times and increasing situational awareness in law enforcement agencies across America.
The technology has contributed to the following success stories:
Chula Vista, CA
“One example of how livestreaming 911 calls has changed officer response was during a recent call to report a drowning. The caller was understandably hysterical and could not provide an address. Officers heard the 911 call and could see precisely where the caller was located and responded immediately, before the call was even dispatched. They saved that child’s life,” says Carla Evan, communications manager for the Chula Vista Police Department.
Polk County, FL
“In the first 30 days we saved three lives. We saved a child that was choking because we got there before fire or EMS. We also saved two people with our AED that were having cardiac arrests. Live911 is a remarkable tool that helps us to arrive at emergencies quicker. It’s a game changer,” says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd
“I heard the call of an 8-year-old reporting a domestic disturbance in progress. His father was beating his mother in front of him. “I was able to get on the scene before being dispatched. The victim told me she believed he would have killed her if we would not have shown up so quickly and arrested the suspect. Long story short, Live911 greatly reduced response time and I strongly believe it saved her life or at least prevented more injury,” says Officer Marcus Burks of the Clovis Police Department.
Everyone wants well-informed first responders with a good understanding as to the type of situation they are going into. The more information and data that can be provided enhances their ability to de-escalate and resolve issues in the safest and most effective manner. There is no faster way to have immediate situational awareness on an incident than to hear the actual 911 call in real-time.
Terry Ryan is the CEO of HigherGround.