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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News: News from September 2016

Text to 9-1-1 enters testing: get familiar with texting 9-1-1

Friday, September 23, 2016

Text to 9-1-1 is one step closer to being implemented in the Capital Area as testing for the service’s delivery and receiving networks begins in October. After testing is completed and the system is switched on, residents will be able to send a text message for emergency assistance if they are unable to speak on the phone. CAPCOG anticipates the service will be available by January 2017.

It is recommended that residents only text 9-1-1 when making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. Residents should follow the guidance of the national slogan for Text to 9-1-1, and “Call if you can, text if you can’t” as the service has more limitations. For instance, cell phone carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint only offer texting services as a “best effort service” meaning they do not guarantee delivery of text messages. 9-1-1 call centers can’t receive text messages sent via a group message or that have an emoji, video, or picture. There also isn’t translation services for text messages, so text messages must be sent in English.

Below are some frequently asked questions to help residents be more aware of using Text to 9-1-1 when it is available in the 10-county region.

What is Text to 9-1-1?
Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send text messages from a U.S. phone number to local 9-1-1 call centers. Only use Text to 9-1-1 if making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. This service is especially beneficial to those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Some other examples of when Text to 9-1-1 would be beneficial:

  • The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition.
  • The caller has poor reception and can only send out a text message.
  • Phone lines and cellphone towers are overwhelmed and only  texts can get through.

Is Text to 9-1-1 available to me?
Text to 9-1-1 is planned for Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Remember to “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.”
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be made available in three separate phases:

  • Hays, Williamson and Travis counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
  • Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell and Fayette counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
  • Burnet, Blanco and Llano counties are projected to start testing the system in November 2016.

Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be fully operational in the 10-county region by January 2017. An online version of this FAQ will be updated as timelines change and the systems come online. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have agreed to offer Text to 9-1-1 in the region.

What are Text to 9-1-1 limits?
Text messaging is a “best effort service” provided by cellphone service providers; meaning cellphone service providers do not guarantee a message will be or ever was delivered. Since the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t required them to guarantee the service, there is a chance that a 9-1-1 call center will not receive a text from a person having an emergency.
Text messages also can take longer to receive, can be delivered out of order or may not be received. Additionally, Text to 9-1-1 does not work if the sender texts using a group message, emojis, sends pictures or videos. Apps that text other app users (such as WhatsApp) or texting via social media (such as Facebook Messenger) do not support Text to 9-1-1.

What languages can be used?
Text to 9-1-1 is only available in English. However, voice calls to 9-1-1 can be processed in multiple languages because all CAPCOG 9-1-1 call centers provide emergency interpretive services.

How do I know a 9-1-1 call center received my text?
Since texting is a “best effort service” for  cellphone service providers, the only way to know a text reached a 9-1-1 call center is when the center texts back. If you believe a text was not received, call 9-1-1.

Why is it better to call 9-1-1?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are the most efficient way to reach emergency help. That’s why the slogan for the service is “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.” Voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to quickly obtain information. Anyone can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using any wireless phone, regardless of the contract or plan.
Disadvantages of texting 9-1-1 include:

  • Texting takes more time and is limited to the text messages.
  • Texting is a best effort service. In some instances cellphone service providers may not relay the message from sender to the 9-1-1 center.
  • A person cannot text to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.
  • Texting to 9-1-1 does not automatically provide the location of the phone texting.

How do I Text to 9-1-1?

  1. Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.
  2. The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
  3. Push the send button.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  5. Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.
  6. Keep text messages brief and concise.
  7. Once you have initiated a Text to 9-1-1 conversation, do not turn off your phone until the dispatcher tells you it is ok to do so.

> Read just this FAQ or download it.
> Read an overview FAQ about the Text to 9-1-1 service.
> Learn more about CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

Upgrade enhances virtual EOC

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WebEOC is a virtual, real-time incident management software that allows for data flow and multijurisdictional communications. It helps jurisdictions organize and assign tasks to team members during disasters and alerts other jurisdictions of neighboring and regional incidents. CAPCOG’s new upgrades will ensure increased accessibility, better user interface, and a more resilient cloud-based infrastructure that will enhance the tool’s capabilities and strengthen local emergency management coordinators (EMCs) organizational control of disaster incidents as they occur and after they happen. It also will allow their municipalities and counties to record valuable information that can assist in submitting for disaster recovery funding.

It also can help allocate local, state, and federal resources. The tool documents every action taken through the system providing an exact record of response and recovery, which speeds up applying for state and federal disaster recovery aid.

Because of the new user interface, the system allows its users to see all their operational boards at a glance and prompts them with tasks and missions assigned to them. The upgrade includes sub-administrator accounts allowing local jurisdictions to setup user groups and grant response teams to get faster access to the tool during incidents. A move to the cloud hosting also means the system can remain online and in use by EMCs regardless if an incident occurs in the Austin area.

CAPCOG is rolling out the upgraded version across the region and will continue to work with EMCs to support and enhance the system. WebEOC training occurs monthly.

> Learn more about WebEOC.
> Discover the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
> Attend a WebEOC training course.

Availability of diabetes self-management course expands

Monday, September 19, 2016

A new partnership will aid the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) in providing the Stanford Diabetes Self-Management Program to more underserved populations. The new funding opportunity increases AAACAP’s, a division of CAPCOG, capacity to conduct these evidence-based classes throughout the region. To expand the program, AAACAP is seeking communities to host the peer-group program.

Nearly one-third of people who are 65 or older have diabetes, which is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke. To help prevent such medical issues from occurring to older Americans, TMF Health Quality Institute partnered with CAPCOG to provide the self-management program to Medicare beneficiaries who are 60 or older and are considered a special target population for diabetes education: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and rural residents.

This self-management program is proven to help diabetes patients better manage the disease by teaching techniques and exercises to manage pain, maintain and improve strength, eat heathier, work with health care providers and identify appropriate medication use. The program has improved the quality of life for many participants and reduced emergency room and hospital visits; a benefit to the individual and the health care system. According to TMF, people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on health care than people without the disease.

> To request a diabetes self-management program in your community, contact Michelle Davis.

Workshops are held one day a week for 2-2 ½ hours during a six week period.

> Read more about AAACAP.
> Discover other Health and Wellness Programs.

Nominations open for Executive Committee, Regionalism award

Monday, September 12, 2016

County and city elected officials interested in serving on the 2017 CAPCOG Executive Committee should submit their nominations before Sept. 30  by using the forms they will receive in the mail after Sept. 9. The 29-member committee serves as CAPCOG’s governing body providing direction to staff on program implementation, budgets, contracts and general policies and procedures. It also serves as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District’s board of managers.

Twenty-five Executive Committee positions are for county and city officials, the remaining four seats are for state legislators representing any portion of CAPCOG’s 10-county region. City and county officials must serve as their jurisdictions’ General Assembly representative to qualify for the Executive Committee. Their jurisdiction must also have paid their dues by Dec. 1 before being elected at the December General Assembly meeting.

> For more information about the election process read CAPCOG’s bylaws.
> Submit Executive Committee nominations to Michelle Mooney.

Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award

CAPCOG also is soliciting nominations for this year’s Jack Griesenbeck Leadership in Regionalism Award. Named for CAPCOG's first chairman in 1970 and the former Bastrop County Judge, the award recognizes a person who consistently advocates for regionalism and takes a multijurisdictional approach when working with local governments, nonprofits and other organizations.

> Get the Griesenbeck nomination form (.pdf).
> Download the Griesenbeck nomation form (.docx).
> Griesenbeck award nominations should be submitted to Mason Canales by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4.

CAPCOG’s Basic Peace Officer Course graduates 14

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Led by instructors from Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, 14 cadets trained nights and weekends to earn their peace officer certification and graduate from a seven-month, CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) course on Aug. 19. Several graduating officers were hired by the Travis County Constable’s Precinct 2 office; Williamson County and Llano County sheriff’s offices; and Lago Vista, Austin Community College, and Bertram police departments.

Two RLEA Basic Peace Officers Courses are underway. A full-time, day course at CAPCOG started Aug. 8, and a part-time, evening course will officially begin in Pflugerville Sept. 6. The enrolled cadets will graduate on Jan. 20 and April 14, 2017 respectively.

> Read more about peace officer courses.
> Discover CAPCOG's RLEA.

CAPCOG to present Annual State of the Region

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Perception versus reality will be this year’s theme for the State of the Region report to be presented by Chris Schreck, Planning & Economic Development Director, at the General Assembly meeting September 14, 2016. What we think is happening and what gets reported is not always the whole picture when it comes to issues related to traffic, population growth, and the economy. CAPCOG, a regional economic development district by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, focuses on planning and policy issues that impact the region’s economic competitiveness and provide data and GIS mapping support to its member governments and stakeholder organizations.

Discover how this woman relates to Capital Area trends at the General Assembly meeting.

> General Assembly Representatives can register to attend.

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