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Six-Year-Old Saves Choking Grandmother’s Life with 911 Call. A 6-year-old boy named Matthias saved the life of his choking grandmother with an immediate call to 911. The Mountain Democrat newspaper carries a story on how Mathias was on the couch with his grandmother who started choking from a severe asthma attack and asked Mathias to wake his mother. Instead, he immediately dialed 911, and shouted to the dispatcher: “Come help my Gaga! My Gaga’s not breathing!” Then he woke his mother who was shocked to find grandmother (aka Gaga) on the floor. Firemen arrived soon after, rushed her to the hospital where she spent some days in the ICU before making a full recovery. Later the boy’s mother said she had no idea how Mathias learned to dial 911. When asked, the boy replied: “Nobody taught me. I just knew it. You just do one 9 and two 1s.” Because children are often the ones making the call, our online training courses address how to adjust use of our protocols and procedures when a child is the caller. When these young heroes make the call, we need to help them save the day.

Speaking of heroes, Mother Jones magazine carries a recent headline: “Hero of 2022: The New Three-Digit National Mental Health Crisis Hotline, 988.” The subhead tells it all: “You finally don’t have to recall an 11-digit phone number in the middle of a mental health emergency.” The article says the 988 line is helping to relieve pressure on traditional first responders: “Fewer than 2 percent of the more than 1.6 million 988 connections initiated since July required the involvement of 911 services, certainly saving administrative and bureaucratic costs that pile up from first responders, and arguably saving mentally distressed callers additional anguish.” News of 988 seems to be spreading. The article points to a recent poll that found that even in these comparatively early days, nearly three out of five Americans are aware of the service. Having worked with several 988 stakeholders on various workgroups, and with the NENA 988-911 Interactions workgroup, PowerPhone has a vested interest in helping agencies be successful with their unique needs as they relate to the rollout of 988.

Did You Drive Your Car Over a Cliff? Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection features have proven their value in saving lives. Last month a man on a snowmobile became stranded at 2 in the morning while travelling in the Alaska wilderness.  He uses his iPhone 14 to send an SOS via satellite alert which placed a 911 call from space. Alaska State Troopers were given exacting coordinates to his location, according to an article in Apple Insider. Later that month, there was a car that flew off a steep cliff north of Los Angeles, in which the two passengers miraculously survived a 300-foot fall. TechCrunch reports that injured, and without cell service deep in the canyon, they decided to try the new Emergency SOS via satellite on their iPhone—and it worked, with the local 911 center dispatching a helicopter to reach them. So that is the good news. Check out our blog on how to take advantage of  the newest technology innovations and integrations available for free to 911 dispatch centers.

Or Just Fall While Skiing? Meanwhile, two different counties in Colorado ski country report that their 911 dispatchers are being plagued by false alarms as skiers inadvertently set off Emergency SOS via satellite messages when taking a fall. The Steamboat Pilot reports that on a busy ski day Routt County Emergency Communications can receive up to 40 automated calls through the satellite, with an automated computer voice calling to provide coordinates. Usually, a person has 20 to 60 seconds to deactivate the alert, otherwise the system calls 911. The Colorado Sun quotes Trina Dummer, interim director of the Summit County 911 Center as saying: “We are not in the practice of disregarding calls. These calls involve a tremendous amount of resources, from dispatchers to deputies to ski patrollers. And I don’t think we’ve ever had an actual emergency event. … “We are absolutely diverting essential resources away from people who need it toward a feature on a phone.” The Colorado Sun article includes instructions for those who want to turn the feature off while skiing. As participants in 911 standards forming organizations across the nation, PowerPhone will push for technology fixes that can resolve the issue of false alarms without diminishing the value of such alerts for actual events.