911 gets mobile savvy

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We live in an increasingly mobile society. Doesn’t it make sense that our emergency services should try to keep up?

That’s the position John Ellison, executive director of Shelby County 911, is taking. Next year, Shelby County’s Enhanced 911 agency will be equipped to receive text messages, pictures and videos from callers.

These days, so many people use their cell phones more as information centers, complete with instant Internet, text messaging and camera and video capabilities.

We applaud Shelby County 911’s effort to keep up with the changing times. While calling 911 is and should remain the preferred method, it’s important that county residents be able to communicate with emergency services in other ways.

Also, for residents that cannot hear or speak, whether because of hearing problems or because of loss of voice, this system could be a godsend.

We also appreciate that the E911 system will be divided across the country, with half at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Columbiana and half at the E911 headquarters at the Shelby County Services Building in Pelham. In this way, Ellison and other officials are protecting citizens by ensuring that if one of the systems goes down, the other one will likely be fine.

With the E911 system, residents will be able to get help in more ways than ever before. That translates to a safer, better Shelby County.