Summit County 911 dispatch uses new video chat with callers

Jan 18, 2023, 6:48 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2023, 2:28 pm

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — A Northern Utah 911 call center is using new video calling technology to help people in an emergency.

Summit County has used a program called Carbyne for the last two and a half months through a pilot program. They’ve decided to purchase it for at least one year.

“We can send a link to a 911 caller…when they click on the link, we can get their location, there’s a video feed, there’s a silent text message feed,” said Summit County Communications Center supervisor Suzie Butterfield.

She said the program is especially useful with injury accidents, domestic violence situations, and search and rescue operations.

“I had an individual that had fallen through the snow into the river,” Butterfield said. “The caller didn’t….he knew the general area where he was. He didn’t know exactly. He was able to scan around, I was able to pick up the address, the building number that he was behind and we were able to get responders there much quicker.”

The center’s director, Gus Sandahl, said dispatchers will often use Carbyne when a 911 call is disconnected.

“We had a person in an unsafe situation, the center tried to call the person back, were unsuccessful. Our dispatcher was on the ball, sent the Carbyne link and we were able to get the location and then a deputy made contact with the person,” he said.

All of the video is automatically recorded and the messages are sent without a notification sound. It can be used as evidence later on.

“If they’re in a domestic situation or something where they can’t talk, you can do silent texts so it doesn’t alert when the text is going back and forth, so it wouldn’t notify the suspect that they were even communicating with us,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield can also screenshot images the user is showing through their video feed. She can then share the feed with first responders. Deputies can see it in their patrol vehicles when they’re on the way to a scene.

She said Carbyne has been useful to bystanders, too.

“We had an intoxicated individual that was falling down the stairs, somebody sent the link to the person that was calling in, they were able to track him and found he was passed out in a snow bank, so he probably wouldn’t have made it through the night if we wouldn’t have had that capability,” Butterfield said.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office called the technology “cutting edge and life-saving.”

“I can send it to somebody, even if they didn’t reach out to me, and then that gives them another avenue in case they were scared to call us,” Butterfield said.

She said it’ll be especially useful when she’s trying to help visitors who don’t know where they are.

“With the amount of people that are coming in for the winter, plus with Sundance coming, it’s just going to be so valuable for the next few weeks for us,” Butterfield said.

The caller does need cell service to use the Carbyne video calling.

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Summit County 911 dispatch uses new video chat with callers