New 911 technology in Ontario County lets callers video chat with dispatcher

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ONTARIO COUNTY, N.Y. – The Ontario County 911 center receives about 468 emergency calls a day. Typically, when 911 calls come into the center the dispatcher only has one option and that’s to listen to the person on the other end.

Now when you dial 911 from your cell phone a new technology will allow the dispatcher to send the caller a livestream video link.

“They are going to have the actual picture to better describe to the first responders as the sheriff points out what the situation is,” Stephen DeChick, Chief of the 911 Center said.

The new public safety technology launched on Monday. It’s called, Prepared Live. It allows video calls between the 911 dispatcher and the caller.

The sheriff says it’s a tool to improve law enforcement response to emergencies in the community. There is no cost to the caller, and this will not delay the response by first responders. First responders will still be dispatched immediately. This will be done in conjunction with the call to 911. It’s an added tool.

It’s the first of its kind in Ontario County. The video link puts the caller face to face virtually with the 911 dispatcher. Think of a zoom video.

“If this person accepts this and the link is activated by our 911 center, the person can use their cell phone to use the camera on it to actually show our dispatch staff what is occurring, where they are calling for this emergency,” David Cirencione, Ontario County sheriff said.

When the dispatcher answers the 911 call, your location pops up on the county map on the dispatcher’s computer monitor, along with your number. The Prepared Live software is integrated into the map.

The dispatcher then clicks on your number, and the software will zoom in on your location. 

The dispatcher will then ask is it okay to text you the video link to gain access to your phone camera. Once you accept the link, the livestream video will begin, and the dispatcher will be able to hear and see a live view.

“If somebody is in cardiac arrest in the field and we are giving CPR instructions up here, the dispatcher can actually watch the CPR being performed and determine if it’s effective or if things need to be done to change up the procedure a little bit to offer that maximum level of care in the field before first responders get there,” Sheriff Cirencione said.

If it’s a violent call the 911 dispatcher would have to make a judgement call on whether to send the video link to ensure the caller’s safety. If the caller is in a situation where they must abandon the phone, there is a feature that can help with that.

“That way the attacker or whoever is there, they don’t want to know, they are on the phone. What I can do is, his phone camera will still be on, but I will hit hide,” Chris Tiffany, 911 dispatcher.

The caller must consent to receiving the link. It does not give law enforcement any access to your phone information, Chief DeChick explained.

Potentially, Chief DeChick says, they may look to expand the technology in the future to share information with officers, EMT’s and firefighters in the field. 

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