Behind the Scenes: Intrado’s Emergency Call Relay Center

Step into one of the most critical departments within Intrado: Emergency Call Relay Center. This blog goes in depth on what exactly the ECRC does, as well as an overview of what a typical day looks like for this team.

Rachel Hein, ECRC Supervisor

September 29, 2021

The Intrado Emergency Call Relay Center (ECRC) exists to handle emergency calls that cannot be routed to a local 911 center. There are many reasons why a call is routed to the ECRC, including technical issues, an address has not been provisioned, or the technology is designed to route to the ECRC first, like satellite phones. 

High demand on local 911 networks also cause calls to be routed to Intrado. These calls can be generated by major catastrophic events like fires, weather, and mass casualty incidents. Short-term assistance during these events from nationwide services, like the ECRC, help ensure calls for help do not go unanswered. The ECRC team has been involved in several critical incidents, which include Hurricane Harvey, Superstorm Sandy, Boston marathon bombing, Nashville bombing, Hawaii nuclear scare, and, most recently, Hurricane Ida. 

ECRC telecommunicators quickly gather the caller’s location and nature of the emergency in order to connect the caller to their local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for help. Unlike a PSAP, many of the 911 calls that come into the ECRC do not have an Automatic Location Identification (ALI). Telecommunicators have access to a host of specialized programs to help them connect callers to their local 911 center efficiently. 

Most calls that come into the ECRC take less than a minute and a half to handle. These calls come from all over the country, including US territories, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The ECRC is strictly an emergency call handling center, answering approximately 20,000 calls per month, from a variety of different call types, like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Wireless, Satellite, Telematics, and Telecommunication Relay Services for the hearing impaired.

Some technology, like satellite phones and telematics devices, will be routed to the ECRC for every call. When a telematics unit detects a potential accident) it will automatically connect to the ECRC so the telecommunicator can confirm the driver’s location, vehicle description, and the status of any injuries before connecting the driver to the local 911 dispatch center. The telecommunicator will stay on the line with the driver until first responders arrive on the scene. 

Satellite calls present a unique challenge for call-takers. Many people who use satellite phones live in or are traveling through remote areas. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of a caller who may be injured while hiking through a national park or who is making a distress call from a boat off the coast. Telecommunicators have access to emergency telephone numbers for national park dispatch centers, coast guard stations, and even the State Department if needed. 

Intrado staffs the ECRC with experienced call-takers who are prepared to triage emergencies. Telecommunicators in the ECRC come from all over the country, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the team and, collectively, have over 200 years of emergency call handling experience. The team enjoys the distinct challenge of handling calls coming in from anywhere in the US, instead of a local jurisdiction. ECRC telecommunicators certify as APCO Public Safety Telecommunicators and trainers certify as APCO Communications Training Officers.

911 has become more complicated and complex as technology develops. The ECRC is here to act as a safety net for the country’s emergency calls. The existence of a 911 call center like the ECRC means that PSAP’s and providers will be supported no matter where or when an emergency happens, ready to help save lives.

If you’re interested in learning more about Intrado’s Emergency Call Relay Center, please visit www.intrado.com/en/life-safety.
 

Author Name
Rachel Hein, ECRC Supervisor