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Clermont County's 911 technology means never having to ask, 'Where are you?'

Dispatcher Markie Planck sits at a Clermont County 911 work station.
Clermont County
Dispatcher Markie Planck sits at a Clermont County 911 work station.

Clermont County is touting the technology its 911 dispatch center uses. Public Safety program administrator Dominick Daulton says since 2018, emergency dispatchers have used GPS locating through the RapidSOS system to pinpoint where cellphone calls are coming from.

"Incidents like the Kyle Plush tragedy, if every 911 center had that technology hopefully that would have never happened, and hopefully doesn't happen again with more and more 911 centers subscribing to the RapidSOS portal," Daulton says.

Plush died in 2018 after he was trapped in a folding seat of his minivan in the Seven Hills School parking lot. He was able to call 911, but first responders didn't find him in time. RapidSOS was introduced after the death of Kyle Plush. Cincinnati's communication center adopted it and the Smart911 system. A spokesperson for the city manager says their emergency dispatch system uses triangulation through cell towers when a GPS fix isn't available.

Clermont County's Daulton says pinpointing through GPS systems happens automatically with RapidSOS.

"The dispatchers log into this website, and then as calls are placed in Clermont County - 911 calls - those calls pop up on this website," Daulton says. "It is so fast, that call is there before the phone even rings on our 911 phone system with the location of the caller."

He says earlier versions of RapidSOS not only required people to sign up, but also to use the app to call 911. "That was kind of a hard feat; getting the general public to download this app, and then remember if I need to call 911, I need to open up this app."

The system has been updated, and callers don't have to sign up or download an app.

Daulton says because it's using GPS, the caller doesn't even have to stand still. "The system's providing almost instantaneous updates on a location, so we don't have to keep asking the caller, 'Where you at now? Where you at now?' We can almost see in real time where they're at and quickly relay that information to first responders."

Clermont County's 911 Center is staffed by 12 dispatchers and four supervisors, who handle calls for all of the county, except for Loveland and Union Township, which have their own call centers but use RapidSOS. Milford is dispatched through Hamilton County.

Updated: December 15, 2021 at 1:06 PM EST
Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.