Local 911 center ‘catching up with the pizza guy’

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CANANDAIGUA, NY (WROC) — At the Ontario County 911 center in Canandaigua, they take 400 to 500 emergency calls a day.

Up until recently, the tracking of emergency cell phone calls would be diverted to a phone tower and give back a location 1,200 to 1,500 meters in radius, hindering response time to someone in need. 

“Now, 911 is catching up with the pizza guy,” says Jeffrey Edwards, Senior Communications Officer with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office.

Edwards is making reference to how pizza places are able to find customers using various apps on their smart phones for delivery. Now, their call center can essentially do the same thing, and there’s no app needed. It’s just regular 911, but improved with an upgrade called Rapid SOS.

“It’s taking the tech that’s in the phones, baked into the smart phones and using like if you were calling an Uber,” says Edwards.

That means a precise location, and getting to an emergency quicker. Chief Stephen DeChick says the technology is essential to have onboard. 

“The key to that is getting an accurate location and getting help dispatched in a very timely manner, and that’s what Rapid SOS provides us here,” says DeChick.

Edwards says he’s already seen Rapid SOS used to help responders get to emergencies quicker, adding it’s important to keep up with whatever people are using.  “Landline phones are going away. It was real easy to find them. It’s now getting easier to find the wireless devices,” he says.

“We are trying to keep up with the technology because it changes everyday,” says Sheriff Kevin Henderson.

Rapid SOS is being rolled out at 911 centers across the nation.

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