Manatee County 911 center receiving high-tech upgrades

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Manatee County 911 center is in the midst of major upgrades. The project is called “next generation 911” and officials say it will revolutionize the way emergency calls are handled.

Now, when a dispatcher takes down the address and critical information from a call, it can instantly be transmitted to a computer screen in a squad car or fire truck. This is instant, and, in time, there will be no more dispatching over radios.

Manatee County call center

“They’re not waiting … Before even dispatch, they can look and (say), ‘OK, we have to respond to this address,’” Ernie McFarland, technical supervisor for Manatee County 911 said.

“As you’re taking the information, it already goes over to them. That way they start on the way to the call and then you can finish it up,” Dispatch Captain Michael Petrilla explained.

It’s important for these dispatchers to act fast. It’s a process to transition from the initial call to the officer actually responding to the scene. The information has to be taken and then transferred to the responding agency.

If the process takes too long, lives could be put in danger. “It’s critically important, especially when there’s a patient that really needs care quickly,” Petrilla said.

Manatee County call center

This system upgrade will save precious time, officials said. “Seconds save lives, so the more information they have, the quicker and better they’ll be able to respond,” McFarland said.

This is the first phase of upgrades. With this new system, Manatee County 911 could soon start receiving text messages. In the future, dispatchers will be able to receive photos and videos from cell phones. New laws will be required and cell phone companies will have to upgrade their technology before this happens, but when it does, Manatee County is ready.

It’s an effort to keep up with the times to better protect the public, officials said.




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