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News : 911 Texting to be Implemented in Montgomery County Next Year
Montgomery County, TX, USA, July 22, 2015 -- Less than a third of Texans are provided the technology to text to 911.
The Montgomery County Emergency Communication District, however, is looking for a technology to use for this purpose.
MCECD Executive Director Chip VanSteenberg presented a preliminary budget to the Conroe City Council at Wednesday’s work session, noting that $363,000 from the $4,292,700 in expenditures is for the data and phone connections needed to keep up with system operating.
"Texting to 911 is an important issue on a national level," VanSteenberg said. "The FCC has mandated that all the wireless carriers be prepared to deliver text messages to 911 call centers. So they’ve put that technology in place. Some of the call centers in jurisdictions around us have adopted that and we feel like it’s our turn to adopt it."
#The MCECD expects to collect $4,297,500 in revenue in the upcoming fiscal year, which is a 4.7 percent decrease from current year estimates.
There is another $160,000 for new programs in the operating budget: $85,000 for a software service that allows citizens to put specific information about their homes into a database to assist first-responders; and $75,000 for a new program to recruit, train and certify 911 call-takers.
The database would include information about allergies, medications, special needs, emergency contacts, pets, or access instructions.
"So if they’ve got people in the home who have special needs, or maybe some allergies or someone needs oxygen, location of pets, or information about your home that you would want to pass on to first-responders, that will be available," VanSteenberg said. "You can enter that into a database and when you make the 911 call from any phone number that’s associated with your records — any wireless phone numbers or the phone numbers of other people that live in your house — that information will be shown on the call-taker’s screen to pass that on to the first-responders."
While the MCECD does not employ call-takers, instead contracting $1.564 million to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Conroe Police Department for the calls generated in the county, the district is looking to have a pool of call-takers to train for a position with high turnover.
"So we want to have a pool of call-takers that have already been certified, trained, their background has been tested," VanSteenberg said. "Maybe we put them part-time in a call center for a while so they’ve got experience so that when a position becomes available, any of the agencies that we support can pull from that pool of call-takers and have somebody that’s ready to go."
The MCECD is a special purpose district authorized and created under Chapter 772 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
Its Board of Managers includes two members elected by the cities within the county and one member elected by the volunteer fire departments that operate in the county.
The county’s principal telephone service provider, AT&T, appoints a non-voting member to the board.
City Administrator Paul Virgadamo was appointed in 2009 by the mayors of cities and towns of Montgomery County.
Oak Ridge North City Manager Vicky Rudy was appointed in 2011 by the mayors.
Oak Ridge North City Councilman Jim Simon was appointed to the board by the Commissioners Court in 2007.
South County’s Emergency Service District 8 Fire Chief Robert Hudson is a 2012 appointee by the Fire Marshal and local Fire Chief’s Association.
Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable also serves on the board.
John Young, a manager with Network Services in the business services department where he manages a team of technicians and engineers who install and maintain Business Customers data and voice equipment, was appointed by AT&T in 2010 as the non-voting member of the board.
Young is also vice president on the board for Montgomery County MUD District 15.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, July 23, 2015