AUGUSTA (WGME) – During an emergency, getting in touch with law enforcement quickly can make all the difference.
An upgrade for Maine’s 911 centers could help speed things up.
Maine’s 911 call centers need to be fast and accurate during an emergency and thanks to a nearly $700,000 federal grant, emergency dispatch centers across the state will soon be better equipped to take calls from those who need help.
“Most of our calls now are coming in from cell phones so making sure we can track those people is incredibly important,” said Phil Bartlett of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
As it stands, those who dial 911 on a cell phone in Maine may be answered by a different dispatch center than the one they are closest to. But officials hope that the funding will help them better pinpoint where calls are coming from.
“There are a lot of different areas where someone might be right across the line,” Bartlett said. He said many of those lines are in Maine’s most rural areas
The state’s 911 bureau says the grant will upgrade GPS and location information for all 24 centers
“A few hundred feet in some rural areas can make a huge difference in terms of where the emergency vehicles are going to go, so we want to make sure that when someone is calling in if there’s an emergency, we can trace that callback,” Bartlett said.
Back in May, WGME investigated law enforcement radio “dead zones” across the state and while officials said the upgrade won’t fix that issue just yet, the most rural counties — including Oxford, Franklin and Somerset — will get the upgrades first.
“We want to make sure that [in] every single corner of the state, we have the best data. So we’ll start with some of the worst areas first to make sure those folks are getting the help they need,” Bartlet said.