911 text feature among upgrades for new dispatch system


HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Two improvements are coming to the hub that handles emergency calls in Horry County.

One is a major step toward making emergency calls easier. Another will add more jobs.

Horry County dispatch kept in mind the ever-changing and improving methods of technology when officials decided to upgrade its five-year-old dispatch system.

Renee Hardwick, director of Horry County 911, said the 911 text feature will help people hard of hearing, or in a situation where they can’t talk but are in an emergency.

She said the texting feature will hopefully be available when the county upgrades its entire 911 system by summer 2018. Money is already allocated for the new system, Hardwick added.

According to Hardwick, the system hasn’t been picked out yet, but it will be more efficient and effective than the county’s current system.

In addition to the texting feature, she announced dispatch is employing two people through vocational rehabilitation. Those employees will specifically analyze data from the National Crime Information Center.

“Their goal is to get them back into the workforce if that’s what that individual wants to do. So we have a couple of folks who maybe can’t do the jobs they used to do. Maybe they have a back injury, or maybe they’ve hurt themselves in a way they can’t sit or stand for long periods of time, and we have the ability to sit or stand in our place. So it gives them the options to do something different,” Hardwick said.

She said hiring people through vocational rehabilitation, some of whom could be veterans, is a way to give back.

Looking ahead to November, Hardwick said the county is transferring over to permanent shifts to give more stable schedules to dispatch employees.

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