Charlotte County Emergency Communications Centers are requesting assistance from the public in relation to their cellular devices and 911 accidental calls. Charlotte County has seen a 33% increase in 911 calls compared to the same time in 2022. Much of this increase is believed to be related to a cellular phone operating system on android phones that took place in the latter part of 2022.
Since the android operating system update rolled out, Emergency Communications Centers from across the world have seen a major uptick in 911 accidental calls. Some of them reporting increases in call volume with upwards of 300-500%. While some of the increase in 911 calls across Charlotte County may also be attributed to population growth, we have been able to identify that many of them are related to accidental dialing. Some of these accidental 911 calls are occurring several times a day from the same device.
To assist us with this rapid growth in accidental 911 calls, please reach out to your provider to learn how you can change settings on your device to prevent these accidental calls. If you should happen to accidentally call 911, please remain on the line until you speak with an operator to confirm the lack of an emergency.
Did you know that in February of 2020 that Kari’s law went into effect nationally? Kari’s Law requires all multi-line telephone system (MLTS) owners to program their systems so that a user can dial “9-1-1” to reach emergency services without having to dial “9” or some other number first. Multi-line telephone systems are typically found in office buildings, hotels, hospitals, airports, etc. In addition to Kari’s Law, is Ray Baum’s Act that requires that street address of the calling party, plus additional information such as suite, apartment or similar information also known as “dispatchable location” to be conveyed via the telephone system when calling 9-1-1. If you are an owner of a MLTS and have not yet made these changes, please review the links provided below and ensure that your system complies.
Both Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Dept 9-1-1 Centers are using a secure web-based platform through Rapid SOS that allows access to emergency data via applications completed by the phone owner. This data is only provided by you when you create a profile and allow sharing of this information.
If you are an Apple user, you can access your Medical ID profile through the iPhone Health App.
Another option is to sign up with the Emergency Health Profile Association at emergencyprofile.org. The Emergency Health Profile is brought to you in partnership with the American Heart Assn, Red Cross, Direct Relief and Rapid SOS.
Users of these profiles, regardless of profile platform, are responsible for maintaining their own data and keeping it up to date. 9-1-1 centers will only have access to information of individuals who choose to participate, complete their profiles and then make a 9-1-1 call. 9-1-1 staff do not have access to information without the device having called 9-1-1. When a 9-1-1 call is received in the center, AND IF, the information is provided, the telecommunicator may ask to confirm the information to ensure it is accurate and relative to the caller.
Charlotte County 9-1-1 centers have been using this web-based platform called Rapid SOS Portal since late 2018. At the time of inception, the Rapid SOS Clearing House provided improved location accuracy of many cellular 911 callers. This technology has proven to be very useful in finding callers in an emergency. Since the 9-1-1 centers adoption of this platform, the Rapid SOS Clearing House has been working diligently to deliver additional data rich information that can improve public safety emergency response. Rapid SOS has been partnering with a variety of companies to enhance the information that can be delivered to 9-1-1 centers.
We will be watching for additional future applications that will be shared with our public safety agencies through the Rapid SOS Platform and pass this information along to the members of our community. If you have any questions about these programs and about 9-1-1 here in Charlotte County, reach out to the E911 Office at 941-575-5339.
With the growing attention related to the COVID-19 outbreak we understand here at the Charlotte County E911 Office that citizens may be looking to all sources for information and direction to include the Charlotte County E911 web page. To that end, we wanted to provide some links that might be helpful and to let you know what steps are being taken to keep our citizens and staff safe during this time.
If you have further questions related to COVID-19 Contact 866-779-6121
In the event that you require medical attention and need to call 9-1-1, you may find that our operators ask a few additional questions. These questions will provide a better understanding of the situation which will allow our responders to be better prepared prior to arriving on scene. Any additional questions that will be asked have been approved by the Medical Director. Based on the responses to these questions, operators may provide additional instruction. We ask for your patience during the questioning process as these questions are essential for citizen and responder safety.
Both,Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Department’s 9-1-1 Centers are taking the COVID-19 situation seriously. Keeping our telecommunicators healthy is critical to maintaining a quality level of service for our citizens. The centers are taking precautions and have back up plans in place.
Thank you for your continued patience and it is our wish that you and your families remain healthy during this event.
Today the 9-1-1 industry celebrates a very important day in history. On February 16, 1968, Senator Rankin Fite made the first 9-1-1 call in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. Several years later, 9-1-1 became the nationally recognized number for accessing emergency services and today hundreds of millions of 9-1-1 calls are made across the country each year. Charlotte County alone, receives over 85,000 9-1-1 calls.
Over the past 50 years, significant strides have been made to improve 9-1-1 service but keeping up with the rapidly changing technology can be quite a struggle in the public sector. Members of the 9-1-1 industry are continuously working towards development of 9-1-1 technology and standards that will meet the needs of the system users. Keeping up with the technology, is not the only challenge. One of the biggest challenges in bringing these technologies to the table is funding. Industry representatives are working hard to bring awareness to the new technologies and the challenges that are being faced every day regarding 9-1-1.
This week, 9-1-1 industry representatives are attending an annual event “9-1-1 Goes to Washington” This event is designed to educate attendees about the legislative and regulatory issues surrounding 9-1-1 and allow the attendees opportunities to share their knowledge and experiences with congressional leaders in an effort to advancing the future of 9-1-1.
For more information regarding on the history of 9-1-1 and modernizing what is currently in place, click on the hyperlinks.
Unable to hear or speak and have an emergency? Reaching emergency services under those circumstances just became easier in Charlotte County. Both Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Department 911 Centers are now capable of receiving text messages.
Text to 9-1-1 is only be used in the event that someone is unable to hear or speak. This could be a hearing-impaired individual that does not have access to a TTY (Teletypewriter for the hearing-impaired) or a person reporting a crime that is in a situation where they are afraid of being heard when making a voice call.
Text to 9-1-1 has several limitations and therefore making a voice call when possible is always the best option. (Remember the motto… Call if you can, text if you can’t) Here are some tips to remember when texting 9-1-1.
As with any call to 9-1-1, providing the address of the emergency is the most important information you can provide in an emergency. Without it could mean a delayed response or no response at all.
When communicating with 911, use plain language. No abbreviations, shortcuts or slang. Using abbreviations can hinder the meaning of the message. Not all parties have the same understanding when it comes to abbreviations.
Do not send group messages. When texting 9-1-1, do not add other individuals to the text. Typically, the carriers strip the additional parties from the call, so save some time and do not add additional parties.
Some carriers are able to send pictures with the call however not all carriers have this capability. If you have questions concerning carrier capabilities, contact your carrier.
There is no guarantee that a message will be sent or received. This will be dependent on your carrier coverage in your area.
Messages may be received out of order.
Text message communication takes longer than a voice call. It can take anywhere between 4-6 seconds longer than a voice call.
You must have a cell phone with service to text 9-1-1.
Not all counties throughout the State of Florida have text to 9-1-1 Services. If you enter a county that does not have text service and attempt to make a text to 9-1-1 call, you will receive a bounce back message.
Misuse of the 9-1-1 system by either voice or text is strictly prohibited per FSS 365.172.
Do not text and drive. If you need to reach 9-1-1 via text, pull off to the side of the road in a safe place and make initiate the text call.
We recognize that there are quite a few restrictions and understand this is an interim solution as we move to Next Generation 911 Services. It is expected that services pertaining to text will improve over time and as they do, we will keep the public informed of changes. Even with the limitations, we feel that text to 9-1-1 service can be a valuable resource to those that are unable to speak or hear.
What you should expect from 911 services during Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma as you know is a major weather event that is expected to have a significant impact on Charlotte County and the surrounding area. It is important to only use 911 in the event of an actual emergency and is even more critical during this time when there is a potential for a large volume of emergency calls. If you have any questions regarding the storm, evacuation procedures and shelters, please watch your local news channel, radio stations or contact 211 or 941-833-4000.
During the storm due to high winds, there could be a potential for loss of 911 services however, please be assured that the 911 service providers have been taking necessary precautions to keep 911 telephone access available.
There also may be a large volume of calls during and directly following the storm, which in turn could delay emergency services arrival.
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Department have trained personnel on duty and ready to assist you in your time but need your cooperation should you need to access the 911 system.
Clearly provide your address. You address includes your house number, street name, city. (For those of you who have relocated from another area, please be prepared and know the address beforehand.)
Provide the nature of the problem.
Do your best to answer any question the operator asks. They have a reason to know the information.
On Monday, March 27, 2017 a local media channel reported that Charlotte County was currently accepting text to 911. Contact was made with the media channel to advise them that this statement was inaccurate. The media may have gotten Charlotte County mixed up with another nearby county who is accepting text to 911. This article is being posted to provide readers with an update on the status of text to 911 in Charlotte County at this time.
There are multiple stages to implementation of text as there is with any other 911 technology. The first step was to obtain the necessary equipment and software that provided the ability for integrated text to 911. This was achieved in May 2016. Currently Charlotte County is in the process of contracting with the service provider, setting up engineering and notification of carriers. Future steps will include field testing, standard operating procedure development, training for telecommunicators and public education.
A very critical step in this process public education as this method of reaching 911 is for those individuals that are hearing or speech impaired or those individuals who are in distress and are unable to speak. For those that can hear and speak, it is preferred that they make an actual telephone call with voice.
Currently in the State of Florida, approximately 1/4 of the counties are able to accept text. Many of those that do not have text are working on it and may somewhere in the various stages listed above. Each county is responsible for implementation of text while the initiative is supported by the Florida E911 Board. More information regarding the Statewide Text to 911 Initiative can be located on the Florida Department of Management Services Enhanced 911 www.dms.myflorida.com/business_operations/telecommunications/enhanced_911
Sarasota and Collier Counties are accepting text whereas Charlotte and Lee do not. If you are a person who relies on text services, check with the county you are staying in to learn about their capabilities.
At 0542 hours on the morning of January the 8th, Charlotte County E911 experienced a 911 outage that affected both Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Departments 911 centers ability to receive and answer 911 calls. When notified of the situation, all 911 calls were immediately re-routed to the Lee County 911 Center. 911 calls were returned to Charlotte Co with a one button transfer and all calls were dispatched immediately. Charlotte County 911 was returned to a normal state at 1047 hours. There were no reports of delays or missed calls during this time period. Charlotte County and Lee Counties have an agreement in place since 2014 for emergency situations such as these. In any type of 911 network whether it be a traditional or IP, failures can happen. Charlotte County has taken measures to insure that calls do not go unanswered in the event of network or equipment failure.
In the case on Jan the 8th, the 911 disruption was a result of a circuit failure that occurred off site. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Punta Gorda Police Department had an upgrade of on site 911 equipment in May of 2016 and there were no issues with this equipment during the failure. Charlotte County E911 is working with the 911 service provider, West Safety Services, to avert such failures in the future.
Some say effective leadership is a learned skill, while others claim leadership to be inherited. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Regardless of the view point, there is no doubt that the following two individuals are proven leaders in their field and have been striving to perfect those skills. Nancy Morris of the Punta Gorda Police Department Communications Division and Melanie Bailey of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division have recently attended reputable leadership courses.
In September of 2014 Communications Supervisor Nancy Morris graduated from the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute’s (FCJEI) Florida Leadership Academy. The Florida Leadership Academy prepares first-line supervisors in criminal justice organizations to exemplify the character and integrity expected of criminal justice professionals. The program also examines the various components necessary to be an effective leader. Nancy was among 33 other law enforcement professionals to graduate from the Academy, which was held at Broward College’s Institute of Public Safety in Davie, Florida.
In August of 2014 Communications Administrator, Melanie Bailey graduated from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Leadership in Police Organization Course. The IACP-LPO program is based on a behavioral science approach to leading people, groups, change and organizations. Students are taught leader strategies for use in dealing with practical work place challenges. The course teaches participants the behavioral science theories to better understand how to lead individuals, groups, change, and organizations. Participants are challenged to use the theories and strategies taught to increase the motivation, satisfaction and performance within their organization and to support organizational change.
Congratulations to the both of them for their accomplishments!
Nancy Morris, Punta Gorda Police Department Communications
Melanie Bailey, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Communications Administrator