ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A change to how emergency calls are routed has simplified the process for the Aberdeen Proving Ground community. Effective immediately, all installation emergency callers should dial 9-1-1 regardless of the type of phone being used.

Previously, when callers would dial 9-1-1 on their cell phones, the calls would be intercepted by various cell phone towers which would distribute the calls to off-post 9-1-1 call centers. The off-post center would then have to transfer the emergency calls to the 9-1-1 center on APG. This time-consuming switch was a concern for both callers and emergency responders and resulted in some organizations encouraging personnel to call a seven-digit number instead of 9-1-1.

According to Director of Emergency Services Chris Ferris, cell phone users no longer need to worry that their 911 calls will be routed off the installation. Ferris said all installation 911 emergency calls have been consolidated and are now routed through the garrison Directorate of Emergency Services' 911 call center at APG North (Aberdeen) for appropriate response and dispatch.

"All callers must now dial 911, whether they are calling from a government land line, cellular phone or commercial land line," Ferris said. "In the event that your call is received by another public safety answering point such as Harford or Cecil County, they will immediately transfer you to the installation 911 call center."

"By not dialing 911, it will create a delay in emergency response if the caller is unresponsive or unable to provide necessary information," said Lt. Elizabeth Wooten, 911 call center supervisor.

Wooten explained that dialing 9-1-1 activates a locator that identifies directly where the call was placed in case the caller becomes nonresponsive or is unable to disclose their location. In the event that an emergency caller dials a seven-digit number, such as the Edgewood Fire Department, the call will be transferred promptly to the installation 911 call center.

"But if you're not dialing directly, we can't tell where you are," she said. "We're following the nation's lead in that we can dispatch from one location and coordinate fire, police and medical assistance for the incident," she said.

"Before, emergency calls went to Edgewood where firefighters or police officers, not trained dispatchers, answered.

"Our dispatchers ask the same questions and follow the same standards as Harford, Cecil and Baltimore counties," said Wooten. "This is a good thing because you as the caller have a reasonable expectation to receive the same level of service whether inside the gate or outside the gate."

Wooten said the consolidation of services is not only more efficient; it meets national standards and provides a better quality of service. She said 9-1-1 callers can expect to be asked a variety of incident and scene safety questions as well as be provided life saving instructions depending on the nature of the emergency.

"This consolidation is a good thing because [on-post] dispatchers know what assets are available on the installation," Ferris added. "Our fire and police responders do not always know the availability of all emergency service assets."

The installation 9-1-1 call center is a 24/7 operation that is prepared for any emergency call received. All dispatchers are trained and provided detailed information about buildings on both APG North (Aberdeen) and South (Edgewood).
For more information about the consolidated 911 call service, contact Wooten at 410-306-0509 or elizabeth.r.wooten.civ@mail.mil.

Page last updated Mon February 25th, 2013 at 00:00