EAGLEVILLE-Montco Happening was honored to cover, photograph and report on the 20th Anniversary celebration of 9-1-1 in Montgomery County. Not only was it a privilege to attend this monumental event, it was also a rare opportunity to see and meet the incredible people who serve our county 365 days a year. Emergency 9-1-1 services in Montgomery County first launched on June 28th, 1993.  A far cry from the old days of switchboard operating, this new emergency phone service provided a more efficient and reliable method of caring for our local residents. Since that first day in 1993, their services, equipment and training have helped put the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Communications Division among the top 1% of it’s peers. This center has successfully adapted to the ever growing advancement of technology and communications for the past 20 years now, and with a caring staff of trained personnel, they will continue to be the people we rely on when emergencies happen.

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Montgomery County Commisioners Josh Shapiro and Bruce Castor (right), thanking everyone for their service to 9-1-1 in Montgomery County

Prior to 9-1-1 services in Montgomery County, there were 88 different seven-digit numbers to choose from depending on location and whether an individual was trying to reach fire, police or ambulance. Callers would be routed, and re-routed, signals would get mixed and communications would sometimes break down. However, today’s system has revolutionized the way calls are received, no matter what the emergency. It has brought an organized system of fluent communication and understanding to a county of more than 800,000 people. The Montgomery County 9-1-1 service now receives more than 2,000 calls per day, with a typical shift consisting of up to 25 telecommunicators working around the clock for our residents. The command center here is more than impressive in it’s stature and abilities. It serves as the central nervous system of emergency services for this county, and the level organization within the room could not have been more apparent. Despite what seemed to be a never ending amount of phone calls, the trained personnel seemed to be at total ease with their abilities. What seemed as an overwhelming amount of information to us, was just another day at work for them. This composure and quiet confidence is a testament to the training these employees must receive prior to and during their time working at 9-1-1 . Because of the extensive training, telecommunicators and dispatchers possess a unique amount of knowledge, patience, understanding and attention to detail, all of which help them perform their duties diligently for this high pressure job.

From the beginning, Montgomery County has had Enhanced 9-1-1 services, which immediately identify where calls from landlines are coming from. With technological advances in cellular phones, they are now able to narrow down the location of most cell phone calls by up to 300 meters. This is an invaluable service as close to 3/4 of their emergency calls are being made from cellular devices. Impressive as this might be, our publics servants, safety and communication officials continue to push for more accurate ways to pinpoint the exact location of cell phone calls, enabling quicker response time no matter where a caller might be located. Future technology may also be able to help callers share digital information with 9-1-1 responders right over the phone.

Montgomery County 9-1-1 services have been providing our county with help and life saving assistance for 20 years now, which is more than worth a celebration! But true to their benevolent nature and dedication, they barely set ten minutes aside to revel in this milestone. They only seemed interested in focusing on their work for our community. On reinventing, pushing and striving to enhance what has already become an invaluable service. As residents, we only get to hear the voice on the other line when an emergency happens. So it was an absolute honor for us to meet the people who help walk us through desperate times and unimaginable tragedies. They deserve all the credit in the world, and yet you’ll never find them asking for it. The 20th Anniversary marks a proud day for 9-1-1 in Montgomery County, and we couldn’t be more thankful for all their services!

*For more information on 9-1-1 services in our county, follow the links below, then check out the pics.

Facebook: Montgomery County, PA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MontcoPA

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Special Thanks to Josh Shaprio, Bruce Castor, John Geib, Frank Custer, Jessica Willingham, Derrick Schliter, Sue Gardy and Tori Rosa

 

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