Michigan Telecommunicators Use Smart911Chat to Initiate Two-Way SMS/Text Sessions with Citizens Involved in Emergency Situations Where They Cannot Speak
FRAMINGHAM, Mass., June 1, 2016 – Rave Mobile Safety, the trusted creator of innovative public safety data and communication software, today announced that 9-1-1 telecommunicators across the state of Michigan are regularly using Smart911Chat to text with callers who are in immediate danger and unable to speak on the phone. This ability is proving critical in helping rescue victims of domestic assault, home invasions, individuals in poor cellular coverage areas, people held against their will and those with hearing disabilities.
While Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) work to enable Text-to-911, according to the F.C.C., only nine percent of the more than 6,500 call centers in the U.S are currently capable of receiving text messages. Even in areas where texting services are available, the F.C.C. encourages citizens still to voice call 9-1-1 during an emergency. However, it is widely acknowledged by public safety officials that many emergency situations may prevent the caller from speaking even after a voice call begins, such as during a domestic abuse incident or a home invasion. During these situations, being able to communicate with the caller via text message may enable a better outcome.
“We’ve seen savings of tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary dispatch costs for law enforcement agencies, just from being able to communicate with callers with whom we could not otherwise contact,” said Tim Smith, executive director of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority. “That’s on top of the priceless value of the violent domestic situations Smart911Chat has helped avert and disrupt.”
Public safety agencies using Smart911 are able to utilize Smart911Chat, a feature that allows their call centers to initiate and interact with 9-1-1 callers via SMS/text message. Telecommunicators in Michigan are leading the charge in leveraging this technology to rescue callers who may not be in a safe position to speak, most notably ones involved in domestic abuse/assault situations, home invasions and kidnappings. Some recent examples of Smart911Chat helping 9-1-1 to better respond to citizens include:
Telecommunicator Amanda Berlin of the Tuscola County Central Dispatch received a call and could only hear fighting and yelling through the line indicating a domestic disturbance. As all too often, the caller then hung up. Berlin reached out to the caller via Smart911Chat, who responded immediately with “yes, please send help!” Continuing to text with the caller, Berlin obtained her location and immediately dispatched authorities, who arrived in time to rescue the woman and arrest her attacker.
Within weeks of Smart911’s deployment, Telecommunicators Sally McCaffery and Jeffrey Whelton of the Bay County Central Dispatch each received calls from victims involved in a home invasion in progress. In both cases, McCaffery and Whelton used Smart911Chat to interact and obtain the location of the callers and dispatch responders. By being able to obtain the critical location information immediately, versus having to wait for the victims to find a safe place to relay it, valuable minutes – and the callers – were saved.
At the Eaton County Central Dispatch, Telecommunicator Francis D’Huyvetter received a 9-1-1 call from a woman who reported that her daughter was in immediate danger and being held captive in an apartment by a male subject. D’Huyvetter used Smart911Chat to contact the daughter’s mobile number given to him by the caller. The victim replied, confirming she was in danger, and that her captor was armed. She also provided her location to which authorities were dispatched. Once they arrived, the woman was instructed, via text, to unlock a door. She did and her captor was successfully apprehended.
Telcommunciator John Wiechenthal of the Ionia County Central Dispatch answered an open 9-1-1 call (meaning there was no response from the caller). Only able to obtain limited location information from the phone’s GPS, Wiechenthal dispatched authorities to the approximate area. After conducting a phone number search, and using social media to learn the caller’s name and a potential vehicle, he relayed the information to officers in the field with the warning that the caller may be in trouble. Utilizing Smart911Chat, Wiechenthal initiated a text session with the caller, and was able to confirm the citizen’s exact location, that their vehicle had become disabled in the deep snow and they were in need of rescue, which arrived shortly thereafter.
Other examples of where Smart911Chat has helped facilitate a more positive emergency outcome may be found at: https://safety.smart911.com/category/stories/
“Victims of domestic violence are not always able to safely communicate with 9-1-1. Fortunately, Smart911Chat provides a communication channel for the victims to give their exact location,” said Telecommunicator Berlin. “In an emergency, every second counts and we’re thankful we have tools like Smart911 to save time and save lives.”
Unlike Text-to-911 which allows callers to initiate contact with 9-1-1, Smart911Chat is a feature of the Smart911 public safety platform, which enables dispatchers to initiate two-way, SMS/text sessions with 9-1-1 callers. Made by Rave Mobile Safety, Smart911 is used by public safety agencies in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities. Citizen-created Safety Profiles deliver added information about the caller including their address, which is particularly critical given the number of calls coming from mobile devices. Smart911 also enables PSAPs to receive detailed information about commercial facilities, including floor plans and access codes with Smart911Facilities. Smart911Location provides more precise location data on callers using smartphones, utilizing similar technology enabling popular mobile applications, such as Uber, to have more precise location data.
“The applications for Smart911Chat and the ways they can help PSAPs accomplish more with less and achieve their goals are endless,” said Todd Piett, ENP, chief product officer at Rave Mobile Safety. “Often, emergency situations would be better helped by being able to communicate with 9-1-1 callers silently. As we’ve seen in Michigan, Smart911Chat is helping telecommunicators overcome limitations in our 9-1-1 infrastructure by giving them the ability to communicate in a method that we all take for granted, especially in situations where we may not be able to speak safely.“