FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Dispatchers in Marion County are becoming better equipped to handle an emergency with a new equipment upgrade.  

People in Marion County can already text 911 to report an emergency if they aren’t able to call but now, they can be the eyes on the scene through their cellphone’s cameras.   

“When a 911 call happens, we’ll send a link to the cell phone and ask them permission to view their camera and they can show us the data or the video on their camera live,” Chris McIntire, director of the Marion County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said.

The new feature gives the dispatchers a better idea of who to send to the scene and gives the first responders a better idea of what they are walking into. It can also help the caller at the scene before anyone gets there.   

“If it’s a domestic (situation) we can tell them to hide in a closet,” McIntire said. “On medical situations, is the right placement of your hands doing CPR. There’s lots of possibilities and I think this is the future of 911’s going to go.”  

McIntire said it has hands down changed the way they do things. 

“It’s not just trying to listen and understand the situation we can now actually see what’s happening in the situation,” he said.   

Marion County dispatcher (WBOY Image)

The dispatcher can only access the caller’s camera if they agree through the text message link sent to their phone and they will tell the caller when the live video has ended.  

“After the call is over the live stream is stopped, we don’t have any other access to that phone, so their phones are completely safe,” McIntire said about the privacy of the caller’s phone.    

The live video feature has already been used in domestic situations, car accidents and a rockslide incident to help the dispatchers better understand how to handle what’s happening.