SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In an emergency, time is of the essence, but if you call 911 in Manatee County, you can count on a new program that will help first responders get to you faster than ever before.
It’s thanks to a new, first-of-its-kind state grant that was just given to Manatee County’s Emergency Communications Center to upgrade the 911 system with a new program called Radius Plus.
Officials at the Manatee County Emergency Communications Center are calling this program a game changer. Just one example is Radius Plus’ ability to pinpoint an exact location for telecommunicators when they’re picking up a call. This is so critical because every second counts in the the emergency response time.
“When there’s an emergency, a lot of times the last thing the person is thinking about is their location," said the Chief of the Manatee County Emergency Communications Center, Stacy Needham.
Yet, that’s often the most important thing the first responders need. So dispatchers, or telecommunicators, spend crucial time trying to figure out an address.
“Do you see a sign? Can you go a little bit further? What do you see around you? What businesses? Do you remember what your last road was? Those questions, they take a long time," said Chief Needham. "I mean, sometimes it can be minutes until we actually get the best location for the caller to get the emergency services to them.”
Which is what makes RapidDeploy’s Radius Plus so important.
It gives telecommunicators the caller’s exact location, offers real-time traffic and video feeds and even gives them the ability to text message the 911 caller.
But what if there’s a language barrier?
“You text in Spanish? They have a translation and it’s attached to it, where I can type in English. I select the ‘Spanish’ and it will translate into Spanish and send you my text in Spanish," explained Chief Needham.
The features are life saving, according to first responders.
Before Radius Plus, dispatchers would use a software that couldn’t always pinpoint where the person was calling from.
In fact, the Emergency Communications Center Chief said there have been incidents when the old program was miles off.
“So had we gone off of that triangulated, estimated location, it would have been wrong and it would have created a delay in emergency responses.”
For more information about Radius Plus, click here.