Grove City, Ohio Makes the Case for 911 Chat in Domestic Violence Incident Response

Picture of Amelia Marceau By Amelia Marceau

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911-cell-callA variety of emergency situations may arise in which someone calls 911, but is unable to talk to the dispatcher. Having the ability to initiate a 911 chat through text message with the dropped caller can prove lifesaving in a domestic violence incident response situation. 

In these situations, it's key that dispatchers do not drop the call and follow up to ensure that the caller is safe. Silent 911 calls often occur when there’s a home invasion, incidents of domestic violence, and other emergencies where valuable time can be wasted trying to triangulate the caller’s exact location. 

Many people may not realize that 911 call centers are not able to track a caller’s location with ease, especially if a person can’t tell a call-taker where they are. The emergency dispatch infrastructure in the United States was created with landline phones in mind.

Without Next Generation 911 capability, finding the location of a silent 911 call can easily take 15 minutes. These situations require the call-taker to contact the phone carrier, often via fax, to receive approval to rebid the caller’s location. 

The 911 call center in Grove City, Ohio dealt with a similar incident recently. Grove City is 16.73 square miles with over 41,000 residents across 15,977 households and 1,200 businesses. These demographics pose unique public safety challenges and technology is helping emergency dispatchers keep the community safe. 

Much like the rest of the country, 62% of 911 calls in Grove City, Ohio come from mobile phones, which do not provide call-takers with an exact address. The ability to receive location data is becoming critical and is especially necessary in cases where a mobile 911 caller cannot speak.  

How Grove City Used Technology for Lifesaving Domestic Violence Incident Response

In an effort to modernize 911 technology, Grove City sought a solution that would empower 911 dispatchers. Grove City became the first location in Ohio to implement a critical response solution, which is able to provide actionable data to 911 and first responders. As a part this solution, community members were able to create a free safety profile called Smart911™,  which can provide 911 call takers and first responders with key information such as an address, medical information, access and functional needs, household descriptions, emergency contacts, and anything else relevant to emergency response.

Smart911 App: Here's How You Can Sign Up

A feature of the solution is that it provides 911 call takers with additional communication tools, such as text chats with the caller. This functionality has proved lifesaving in incidents where the caller is silent. Since the implementation of the solution in Grove City in November 2013, more than 3,000 911 calls have been impacted and 2,100 chats initiated. The ability to text callers has greatly improved Grove City’s ability to respond to many dangerous situations in a timely and effective manner, and has proved especially effective in instances of domestic abuse. 

One story stands out - Sarah, a Communications Technician who has worked at Grove City Division of Police for 5 years, received a 911 mobile call where she could hear an agitated man screaming in the background and a woman saying, “Get away from me.” Domestic situations are incredibly dangerous for victims and therefore time sensitive. These scenarios also require responding officers who are walking into an unknown situation, meaning the faster they can gather information and arrive on the scene, the better.

In this case, the caller had previously created a Smart911 Safety Profile that included her address. Because of this, Kessler knew exactly where to dispatch responding officers. When the officers arrived on the scene, they made an arrest and EMT’s were able to provide immediate medical aid.  

In the past five years, Grove City’s 911 call takers have used the critical response solution called Rave 911 Suite every day to improve efficiencies and save lives. Through outbound chats and Smart911 Safety Profiles, the Grove City 911 center has been able to use new tools to engage their community and help educate the people on how to better prepare for an emergency.

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Amelia Marceau

Written by Amelia Marceau

Amelia is a marketing intern at Rave. She loves to write and uses her previous experience as the co-editor of The AMSA Voice (her high school’s online newspaper) to bring new ideas to the Rave blog. When she’s away from the keyboard, you’ll either find her falling on the ice with two blades on her feet or competing in a triathlon. Amelia attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Political Science.

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