Mid-Shore 9-1-1 Dispatchers Join Forces to Answer Calls

Emergency dispatchers on the Mid-Shore are joining ranks to ensure that 911 callers do not get a busy signal; instead, overflow calls will roll over to another trained dispatcher in a neighboring county to make sure that all calls are answered by a professional.

According to MyEasternShoreMD,

“About 70 percent of 911 calls come in via cell phones,” said Director Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services Scott Haas. “Today, after six 911 cell phone lines are in use, the caller gets a busy signal. Our partnership with Kent, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties will eliminate that problem.”

This will be particularly important when there are simultaneous emergencies. For example, if there is a car accident on U.S. Route 50 with multiple witnesses calling 911, while elsewhere in the county someone is experiencing heart attack symptoms and someone else is hurt in a farming accident.

Previously, the seventh caller would get a busy signal. Now that caller will be routed to a dispatcher at a neighboring emergency services center.

All Mid-Shore dispatchers are trained in life safety instructions, such as guiding someone through the steps for CPR, controlling bleeding and even childbirth.

“The message I really want to send to the public is that if you dial 911 and the call is answered by another county — do not hang up,” said Haas. “We are working together and help is on the way.”

Under the new partnership, dispatchers can allocate resources throughout the Mid-Shore.

9-1-1 call centers often struggle to transfer calls and activate alternative routing to share the burden during an emergency or when call centers are closed by disaster. This issue can be addressed by ensuring a smooth transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911). NG911 will enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Linked call centers will also be able to share resources like GIS (Geographic Information System) databases rather than each having to purchase their own. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.

While the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through relating to technology standards, the process of transition, governance, and funding. MACo supported Senate Bill 466, “Carl Henn’s Law,” a bill to streamline the transition to NG911. MACo worked with bill sponsor, Senator Kagan over the interim on ideas for the legislation and was pleased to have her support on several amendments to the bill.

As amended, the legislation expands the uses of a state funding mechanism for 9-1-1 upgrades and creates an advisory board that includes local 911 Center representation to help implement the next generation technologies throughout the State. SB 466, “Carl Henn’s Law,” passed the Senate but did not move in the House.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: “Carl Henn’s Law” to Advance 9-1-1 Heard in Senate

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Counties Left in the Dark When 9-1-1 Fails

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Next Steps on Next Generation 9-1-1