(KUTV) — The way 911 is used in Utah is gearing up to change forever. Imagine being able to send pictures and video to show first responders of the scene before they even get there.
The state is close to making that happen.
Nearly 1 million people call 911 in Utah every year — that’s an average of 2,600 calls a day.
Back in 2005, Selina Gorst had to make one of those calls.
“I was in a relationship that was abusive with a partner," Gorst said.
Gorst got into an argument with her girlfriend, in public, and it turned violent.
“There was glass on the ground and she ended up cutting herself and very dramatically saying, 'If I can’t be with you, then I would rather be dead,'” Gorst said.
Gorst was initially accused in the stabbing. She said she had to convince police she didn’t do it.
“I remember just like, feeling my heart was pumping all the way down to my stomach. I was so nervous and distraught," she said.
During Gorst’s emergency and even today, a 911 call is just a question and answer session with dispatchers. A picture or video does nothing to help.
“Tomorrow, those pictures would be real time — that data would be real time," said Melanie Crittenden with the Utah Communications Authority. "They take a picture, they send it to the telecommunicator, the telecommunicators then send it to the first responders, and they see the scene before they even arrive."
In the next generation of 911 calls, pictures, videos, geolocation, biometric readouts and even crash analysis will all be sent to first responders instantly.
“We are transitioning to get all of our 911 call centers ready for those future technologies that are going to be occurring quicker than we anticipated” Crittenden said.
For victims like Gorst, the new tech can’t come fast enough.
“Yeah, it can definitely save lives," Gorst said.
The state is looking for contractor bids for new 911 technology to be submitted by the end of October.
There is not a set timetable for when the technology will be used. When it does, the state plans on an advertising blitz to educate the public about the new technology's availability.