Stafford County, Va., yesterday announced that it upgraded its 911 system to the CallStation platform from Emergency CallWorks—a company acquired by Motorola Solutions earlier this year—in preparation to deliver text-to-911 service by the end of the year and prepare for the migration to a next-generation system in the future.

Faced with a legacy 911 system that was nearing the end of life at the beginning of the year, the upgrade to the Emergency CallWorks platform has provided immediate benefits in the three months since being installed, according to Carol Adams, director of the division of emergency communications for the Stafford County, Va., sheriff’s office.

“This system is very quick and efficient,” Adams said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It provides for a single screen by which a call-taker can answer and manage a call. You don’t have to go to multiple screens, like a lot of applications today want you to do. You’re literally going to one screen and doing all of the activity that you need to do from that one screen.”

One feature that has been particularly helpful is a mapping function that automatically identifies the location of a 911 caller, which allows for improved resource use within the public-safety answering point (PSAP) and throughout the pubic-safety response entities, Adams said. When an accident on the interstate generates up to 10 calls in the same area, the mapping feature can help coordinate the response to that incident and—perhaps more important—help 911 personnel identify when response resources may be needed elsewhere in the county, she said.

“If I get [a report of] an accident on the interstate, and I’m getting five to 10 phone calls, I can look at a map and see that all of those calls are coming from that same general area of an accident that we’ve already reported,” Adams said. “It’s safe to say that those calls in the cluster are probably related to that accident.

“Mind you, we’re not going to delay answering those calls, but it also allows us to say, ‘This call [on the other side of town] is probably not related to this cluster—where we already have a response started—so I can select that call to see what their emergency is. If it is a cardiac arrest or a child not breathing or something that is truly life threatening, then we can manage the call and get the response while continuing to process these other calls.”

As a PSAP that provides emergency medical dispatch (EMD) services, quickly assessing the need level to an emergency in an isolated incident can mean the difference between life and death, Adams said.

 “Time is of the essence, and when they say that seconds count, it really does apply,” Adams said. “This is us being able to use those seconds, with the tools that we have—in this case, a visual map to see where the calls are coming from—to use every single second to the best of our ability.”

In addition to the immediate benefits of the Emergency CallWorks system, the platform will let the Stafford County PSAP meet its goal of providing text-to-911 services by the end of the year, Adams said. The platform also is designed to work in a next-generation 911 environment when the appropriate all-IP connectivity is in place, she said.

“As next-generation 911 comes into play, I wanted to make sure that the application that we chose for Stafford County was one that would take us into the future to those foreseeable technologies and advancements in 911 that are going to come,” Adams said.