Upgrades expected for Benton County Emergency Services - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Upgrades expected for Benton County Emergency Services

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After decades of using old technology, Benton County Emergency Services could start seeing some major upgrades soon.

It's been a long time dream for Emergency Service workers to see changes in the technology they've been using since the 1960's, and now, with the passing of the 911 Modernization Tax Law, the reality is beginning to set in.

Workers will be able to see improvements such as adding text messaging or photo messaging to 911 dispatchers to help them learn where you are and what's happening around you during an emergency.

Starting January of 2011, 20 cents will be added to phone sales to help pay for next generation technology. 911 manager Jim Barber says it's about a 40 percent increase, and it will help make our area safer.

"If I had to give an example it's like the birth of 911," Barber said. "We're at another birth in 911. We're evolving. It's not new, but it's something we don't have today and it's something that will benefit the public."

As workers start to modernize the 911 system they will also include new voice and data texting to help the hearing impaired or deaf residents. Emergency services has already begun a pilot program of the changes expect to take effect next year.