An interview with Jody Kenyon, Manager/Technical Support of Public Safety, Pasco County
CrisisGo has been working with Pasco County, Florida and their Pk-12 school safety teams for several years by providing them with unique safety solutions. This collaboration has led to much success when it comes to the safety of over 80,000 students in 99 buildings. Pasco County Schools wanted to ensure that their alerting system had the right information necessary for dispatch at the 911 call center. We talked with Jody Kenyon, Manager/Technical Support of Public Safety, Pasco County and learned the story of how concerns set them off on a meticulous journey that led to the development of an innovative solution.
Q1: How did you recognize your need for the Direct 911 feature?
A: The challenge was put forth by the state of Florida when they passed Alyssa’s Law in 2020, mandating silent panic alarms and electronic links between schools and Florida law enforcement. When Pasco County Schools realized that we needed to alert dispatch at a faster rate, we decided to use CrisisGo’ Direct 911 feature to meet our needs. Implementation started by entering the building addresses into the CrisisGo console and verifying the exact GPS locations. Then, contact names and phone numbers were entered for each location that would receive the initial call. Some locations even had more than two contacts. When the alert was triggered, the 911 call center received the GPS location as well as vital information for the school, integrated directly into their 911 call handling system. While first testing the Direct 911 feature at Pasco County Schools, we realized even more information was necessary for dispatch if they were going to reach the highest level of safety.
Q2: What were the next steps for ensuring more information was being shared during emergencies?
A: Jody explains, “We worked with CrisisGo to further define the integration part in the 911 center. CrisisGo was receptive, supportive, and innovative. They weren’t afraid to come up with a solution to meet that integration requirement.” After configuring the application for an alert, CrisisGo added in the type of alert, the school name, and the contact’s name that sent the alert. At first, it was evident that these additions solved many problems. Further testing of the system showed that the first auto-generated call to the first person on the contact list had some potential risks since there was a delay in the information going to 911.
Q3: What can you tell us about how CrisisGo assisted you with automated messages?
A: The idea of a potential delay caused Pasco County Schools to search for a solution for when a contact did not pick up. CrisisGo started to think carefully about how many contacts this call would go through and how much valuable time this would take with a delay to 911. If no one picked up, that would result in the 911 center not being connected to a voice call and would reduce awareness of an active event. Pasco County Schools asked if CrisisGo could, instead, send an auto-generated message to the 911 center first. Jody says, “We wanted it to be a digital message, because we know that the person who triggered that alert may be busy doing other things while that alerts being triggered. To have the person wait to have to talk on the phone could be challenging at the moment of the event when it’s going on.” This automated message would inform the 911 center of the school name, threat status, address and name of the person that triggered the alert. Once that message processed in the 911 center, CrisisGo would then dial the first contact, second, and so forth until it connected the school to someone at the 911 call center site.
Q4: What was the final result of the collaboration of Pasco County with CrisisGo?
A: CrisisGo went to work on the automation request and brought in the CrisisGo technical team to assist. After some additional testing, it was a success. Pasco County Schools now have a Direct 911 feature that can automate a call with the 911 center instantly, allowing a much faster notification to first responders. Once the 911 center hangs up after receiving the alert with vital information, it will start to call the contacts listed at the affected school, one by one. Jody Kenyon, of Pasco’s 911 Center, said “This update gave us exactly what we needed.”