YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - "Next Generation 911" is now in operation in Mahoning County.
New state-of-the-art enhancements will not only upgrade the hardware and software of the system, but will make sure that when you need help, emergency responders can find your location without a word being spoken.
A news conference and ribbon cutting was held at the Mahoning County Commissioner's hearing room Friday.
"I think it's fantastic. It's a symbol of the whole community coming together to put together Next Generation 911 and make Mahoning County a safer place for it's citizens," says Elizabeth Goodwin, the Deputy Director for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's Office.
Mahoning County 911 Director, Maggie McGee has spent several years overseeing every aspect of the upgrade and says, "Our part of it is we're trying to be sure that to the citizens it's still simple 911. But in the future, even our kids, they're not going to call, they're going to text us. That's just the way the future is."
An important component of "Next Generation 911" is that in a cell phone society, the county at some time will be able to receive text messages and even streaming video from the scene of an emergency. They're just waiting for special software to be developed nationwide.
Boardman Fire chief, George Brown praised the collaborative efforts of the county's 911 director, and county leaders for upgrading from analog to digital.
"We're preparing for the next step, which will be the text messaging, emails, videos, and pictures to go right to the 911 Center. So, with these enhancements that's coming in the future, this puts us in line to be right on the cutting edge," Brown says.
The antiquated system that was in place for 21 years is outdated according to county officials.
County leaders feared they were in danger of communication failures that could have jeopardized calls for help.
Now, with upgraded hardware and software, emergency responders will have a documented history of each address and know what they're walking in to. The new system will ensure that even if you contact 911, and are too injured to speak a word, a mapping system will help police, fire and ambulance crews find you.