INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that aims to help improve 911 response across county lines.
When you call 911, sometimes the closest first responders don’t receive that call. This can happen if you’re near a county boundary.
Since not all counties use the same computer-aided dispatch system, 911 dispatchers sometimes cannot see what resources are available in a neighboring county.
“For me, it’s all about my son,” said George West, who testified at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday alongside a picture of his son, Matt.
When Matt went into cardiac arrest in Fishers in 2019, dispatchers sent paramedics from three miles away in Hamilton County instead of an available team roughly one mile away in Marion County.
The two counties use different computer-aided dispatch systems.
George wonders if his son’s life could have been saved with a faster response.
“This has been going on a long time, and how many people have lost their lives?” he said.
Last year, Indiana lawmakers commissioned a study to find ways to improve communication across county lines.
Now, State Sen. Kyle Walker (R-Fishers) is leading another bill that would require the state to study the costs and find the most feasible option.
“We’ve sort of identified the solution; it’s more about the cost and implementation,” Walker explained. “What are the actual steps that we can take to move towards full interoperability?”
Jeff Schemmer, who runs the Indiana Statewide 911 Board, said the fix is going to require additional state funding but believes it’s doable. A few other states are already working on implementing solutions, he added.
“The technology’s there,” Schemmer said. “Indiana is one of the leaders in 911 call delivery.”
“If in fact they do the right thing, and I’m sure they’re going to, it will save people’s lives,” West said.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor after unanimous approval in committee. If it becomes law, the study would need to be completed by July 1, 2024.