ATLANTA (CBS46) — When you dial 911, you may expect dispatchers to immediately know the location and send emergency crews. But that’s not always the case. The process can take minutes, but when every second counts, that can be too long, so dispatchers are now using video response.
The 911 video calls are helping with more than just location too.
“It can take its toll,” Douglas County dispatcher Amanda Strickland described about the job. Because no matter the crisis, emergency response depends on her precision.
“We have to keep working at it over and over until we know,” she explained.
Strickland says a person’s life can hang on whether the 911 center gets an accurate understanding and location of a call. Sometimes, it does not happen immediately.
“It’s not just in our face as soon as you dial 911, it takes work to get there.”
CBS46 learned, between misinformation from a caller, or even cell phones pinging multiple cell towers, there are challenges pinpointing an exact spot of an emergency. Finding an address can mean delays for minutes.
Douglas County Dispatch says they cannot afford delays. It’s why the county opted for a new technology called Carbyne, a means to have a 911 call on video, no longer just audio.
“Call-takers are not anymore blind and trying to imagine. They can see, literally see in real time a car accident or fire,” Carbyne CEO Amir Elichai told CBS46.
Here’s how it works
You call 911, but maybe you’re lost, maybe you can’t speak, or the emergency is so overwhelming you need first-responders to actually see what they’re up against before they arrive. The dispatcher on the line texts a link to your cellphone. Once you click the link, dispatch has immediate access to your location, plus access to your camera. It’s essentially a live map and live stream of your emergency.
“So all the situational awareness is much better,” Elichai claimed.
The CEO came up with the idea for public safety departments after he was robbed six years ago and he says response took too long.
The New York based company now helps 400 million people worldwide, including five Georgia agencies—the Georgia Department of Transportation, Fayetteville County 911, Douglas County 911, Turner County 911, and Fannin County 911.
“We’re able to show the units responding exactly where the fire was or exactly how bad it was, how close the homes are together they are responding to,” Strickland added.
But that’s far from all. Dispatch now uses it when someone is speaking impaired or when there’s a domestic violence call. The video option can act as a witness. And even in a situation where CPR is needed, staff like Strickland are able to visually explain how and where your hands should go.
"We’re able to get more on scene with a caller versus just hearing it through the phone.”
Almost weekly, the center credits the option as life-saving, assisting with several hundreds of calls worth more than just hearing, but also seeing.