Pharr introduces new video to 9-1-1 software

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PHARR — The city of Pharr announced a new video to 9-1-1 software that officials anticipate will assist first responders in emergency situations.

During a news conference at Pharr City Hall on Thursday morning, department heads from the Pharr police, fire and EMS helped announce the new program.

“This particular software uses the ability to receive a video stream from the 9-1-1 caller into the communications center so that the dispatcher could have a better picture of what’s actually happening,” Kenneth Ennis, the city’s public safety communications director, said after the news conference.

The city initiated a trial phase for the program, called Carbyne, on May 1 before officially launching the program Thursday morning.

“We will use it to provide life-saving instructions, whether it’s CPR, stopping the bleed, getting out of a fire, or even getting out of a dangerous situation on the law enforcement side,” Ennis said. “We’re able to see that they’re actually following those options and that they’re doing them to the best of their abilities.”

The software will be compatible with any cellular phone with video capabilities and does not require any app to be downloaded.

Ennis said that when someone calls 9-1-1, the dispatcher will determine if the situation warrants a video call, particularly any life-threatening situations. Dispatchers will then send a link to the caller, which he said will be clearly identified as a public safety link. When the caller clicks on the link and allows access to the camera, an instant video connection will be created.

He added that the video will also provide an evidentiary account for police should callers find themselves in a criminal situation.

The software will provide police with a video description of the situation, while also providing EMS and firefighters the opportunity to better prepare for the emergency situation before they’ve left their respective stations.

“(Video) can be fed to our apparatus while we’re responding to the scene simultaneously,” Fire Chief Pilar Rodriguez said. “For firefighters, it’s all about situational awareness. It’s all about scene size-up. That helps us set that in motion so when we arrive at the scene we spend less time trying to figure out what’s going on and being able to enact the mitigation that we need to help with that emergency situation and take care of it.”

EMS Chief ​​Danny Ramirez and his department have already become familiar with the program, which he said has already proven beneficial.

“The ability to go out there and make that difference is life-changing not just for us but for the community,” Ramirez said. “I’m super excited that we have this program. It’s going to make a big difference.”