(Springfield, Mo.) Governor Mike Parson stopped in Springfield today to sign legislation into law concerning 911 emergency communication services.
Gov. Parson signed into law, House Bill 1456, which will allow each county a choice of implementing a tax on any device that you can contact 911 with a mobile device.
"I think the big thing is to show appreciation for the people that are out there every day that’s doing a job for the people in the state of Missouri that most of us don’t want to do frankly that are in risking their lives every day for us," explains Gov. Parson.
Springfield Greene County 911 Emergency Communications Director Zim Schwartze says this new law and generation of money will help fund equipment upgrades and prepare them for future technology changes.
"Any wireless device that can call into 911 will have that tax or a fee and it will actually come to 911 to support the center and build, improve technology, actually start a 911 center or even increase the number ," explains Schwartze.
Schwartze says upgrading the state's 911 infrastructure is needed as 80% of emergency calls placed in Missouri are from mobile devices.
"As the wireless industry and cell phones became so popular 10-15 years ago everyone has one so we’re trying to get up to speed and it is so important that the folks know that we’re always trying to improve 911 in our state."
Supporters of the legislation say the new technology will change the way dispatch centers respond to emergencies making them more efficient, precise, and secure.
Missouri House Representative Jeanie Lauer says,"This truly is a matter of life and death and it is a matter of response time. We only have a short period of time to get to people when there is an incident, an emergency."
Schwartze adds it's critical for dispatchers to have as much information as possible as quickly as possible to relay to first responders answering a call.
"We are their lifeline and we have to be working and operating at top speeds all the time and top notch so that we keep them safe," says Schwartze.
The governor also signed seven other bills including ones that will improve higher education and reinforce efforts to curb opioid abuse.