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Catawba County residents will be better protected with the implementation in the coming months of a new 9-1-1 program.
Next Generation 9-1-1 technology allows operators and responders to better serve citizens during an emergency situation, said Terry Bledsoe, chief information officer.
"(A car accident) generates a lot of calls to our 9-1-1 center, and that ties up lines," Bledsoe said. "We hope to remedy that with Next Generation 9-1-1."
Bledsoe presented information about Next Generation 9-1-1 on Monday at the Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Within the next 10 to 12 months, the county hopes to implement text messaging 9-1-1 services, which allows residents to communicate with 9-1-1 operators without verbal communication.
"We're getting ready to take a very significant step," Bledsoe said.
More than 18,000 people in Catawba County have some form of hearing disability, and Next Generation 9-1-1 is designed to protect those citizens in the event of an emergency.
The use of text messaging and video phones allow the hearing-impaired to communicate important details, such as their location and possible injuries, to a 9-1-1 call center, as well as receive information from the 9-1-1 operator.
Text messaging is also helpful during hostage or kidnapping situations, when victims don't want to be heard by their attackers.
"Text messaging and the ability to communicate with smart devices out there is very important to us," Bledsoe said.
emergency call centers receive a high volume of calls after major wrecks or other emergency situations, which occupies phone lines for other unrelated emergencies.
Next Generation 9-1-1 can route calls to another center, regardless of the center's location, so no emergency calls are missed.
"It allows us to route those calls where we want to route them," Bledsoe said. "This system allows us to make choices."