The Legislature hereby finds and declares that it is in the public interest to shorten the time required for a citizen to request and receive emergency aid. There are hundreds of different emergency phone numbers throughout the state. Present telephone exchange boundaries and central office service areas do not necessarily correspond to public safety and political boundaries. Provision of a single, primary emergency number through which emergency services can be quickly and efficiently obtained will provide a significant contribution to law enforcement and other public service efforts. This simplified means of procuring emergency services will result in the saving of life, a reduction in the destruction of property, quicker apprehension of criminals, and ultimately the saving of money. The Legislature further finds and declares that the establishment of a uniform, statewide emergency number is a matter of statewide concern and interest to all inhabitants and citizens of this state. It is the purpose of this article to establish a primary emergency telephone number for use in this state and to encourage units of local government and combinations of units of local government to develop and improve emergency communication procedures and facilities in a manner that will allow a quick response to any person calling the primary emergency telephone number seeking police, fire, medical, rescue and other emergency services.
Effective the first day of April, one thousand nine hundred eighty-eight, and thereafter, the provisions of this article shall also be applicable to municipalities of this state. Where the provisions of this article refer to the word "county" or "counties," henceforth such references shall be considered to include the word "municipality" or "municipalities" with respect to the subject matter therein, except and unless such reference to "municipality" or "municipalities" would not have a logical and clear meaning within such context.
It is the intent of this section to make this article equally applicable to counties and municipalities alike and to allow county commissions and the officials of municipalities to enter into such agreements between them or the telephone company as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes provided for by this article: Provided, That if any county has a system in place, municipalities may not adopt a different system without county approval.
(1) "Commercial mobile radio service provider" or "CMRS provider" means cellular licensees, broadband personal communications services (PCS) licensees and specialized mobile radio (SMR) providers, as those terms are defined by the Federal Communications Commission, which offer on a post-paid or prepaid basis or via a combination of those two methods, real-time, two-way switched voice service that is interconnected with the public switched network and includes resellers of any commercial mobile radio service.
(2) "County answering point" means a facility to which enhanced emergency telephone system calls for a county are initially routed for response and where county personnel respond to specific requests for emergency service by directly dispatching the appropriate emergency service provider, relaying a message to the appropriate provider or transferring the call to the appropriate provider.
(3) "Emergency services organization" means the organization established under article five, chapter fifteen of this code.
(4) "Emergency service provider" means any emergency services organization or public safety unit.
(5) "Emergency telephone system" means a telephone system which through normal telephone service facilities automatically connects a person dialing the primary emergency telephone number to an established public agency answering point, but does not include an enhanced emergency telephone system.
(6) "Enhanced emergency telephone system" means a telephone system which automatically connects the person dialing the primary emergency number to the county answering point and in which the telephone network system automatically provides to personnel receiving the call, immediately on answering the call, information on the location and the telephone number from which the call is being made and, upon direction from the personnel receiving the call, routes or dispatches the call by telephone, radio or any other appropriate means of communication to emergency service providers that serve the location from which the call is made.
(7) "Prepaid wireless calling service" means prepaid wireless calling service as defined in section two, article fifteen, chapter eleven of this code.
(8) "Public agency" means the state and any municipality, county, public district or public authority which provides or has authority to provide fire fighting, police, ambulance, medical, rescue or other emergency services.
(9) "Public safety unit" means a functional division of a public agency which provides fire fighting, police, medical, rescue or other emergency services.
(10) "Telephone company" means any public utility and any CMRS provider which is engaged in the provision of telephone service whether primarily by means of wire or wireless facilities.
(11) "Comprehensive plan" means a plan pertaining to the installing, modifying or replacing of telephone switching equipment; a telephone utility's response in a timely manner to requests for emergency telephone service by a public agency; a telephone utility's responsibility to report to the Public Service Commission; charges and tariffs for the services and facilities provided by a telephone utility; and access to an emergency telephone system by emergency service organizations.
(12) "Technical and operational standards" means those standards of telephone equipment and processes necessary for the implementation of the comprehensive plan as defined in subdivision (11) of this subsection.
(a) The public service commission shall develop, adopt and periodically review a comprehensive plan establishing the technical and operational standards to be followed in establishing and maintaining emergency telephone systems and enhanced emergency telephone systems.
(b) In developing the comprehensive plan, the public service commission shall consult with telephone companies, and with the various public agencies and public safety units, including, but not limited to, emergency services organizations.
(c) The public service commission shall annually review with each operating telephone company their construction and switching replacements projections. During this review, the public service commission shall ensure that all new switching facilities will accommodate the emergency telephone system.
(a) Upon the adoption by the public service commission of a comprehensive plan, the public agency may establish, consistent with the comprehensive plan, an emergency telephone system within its jurisdiction. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit or discourage in any way the establishment of multi-jurisdiction or regional systems, and any emergency telephone system established pursuant to this article may include the territory of more than one public agency, or may include only a portion of the territory of a public agency. To the extent feasible, emergency telephone systems shall be centralized.
(b) Every emergency telephone system shall provide access to emergency services organizations, police, fire fighting and emergency medical and ambulance services and may provide access to other emergency services. The system may also provide access to private ambulance services. The emergency telephone system shall provide the necessary mechanical equipment at the established public agency answering point to allow deaf persons access to the system. In those areas in which a public safety unit of the state provides emergency services, the system shall provide access to the public safety unit.
(c) The primary emergency telephone number to the extent possible shall be uniform throughout the state.
(d) Insofar as it is consistent with applicable federal law and federal communications commission regulations and orders, atelephone company in the normal course of replacing or making major modifications to its switching equipment shall include the capability of providing for the emergency telephone system and shall bear all costs related to including that capability. All charges for other services and facilities provided by the telephone company, including the provision of distribution facilities and station equipment, shall be paid for by the public agency or public safety unit in accordance with the applicable tariff rates then in effect for those services and facilities. Other costs pursuant to the emergency telephone system shall be allocated as determined by the applicable comprehensive plan of the public service commission.
(e) All coin-operated telephones within the state shall be of a design that will permit a caller to initiate, without first having to insert a coin (dial tone first or post-pay systems), local calls to the long distance and directory assistance operators, calls to the emergency telephone number answering point, if one has been established in his or her local calling area, and to other numbers for services as the telephone company may from time to time make available to the public.
(1) All the territory in the county, including every municipal corporation in the county, which is served by telephone company central office equipment that will permit such a system to be established shall be included in the system: Provided, That if a portion of the county or a portion of a municipal corporation within the county is already being served by an enhanced emergency telephone system, that portion of the county or municipality may be excluded from the county enhanced emergency telephone system;
(2) Every emergency service provider that provides emergency service within the territory of a county participate in the system;
(3) Each county answering point be operated constantly;
(4) Each emergency service provider participating in the system maintain a telephone number in addition to the one provided in the system; and
(5) If the county answering point personnel reasonably determine that a call is not an emergency, the personnel provide the caller with the number of the appropriate emergency service provider.
(b) To the extent possible, enhanced emergency telephone systems shall be centralized.
(c) In developing an enhanced emergency telephone system, a county commission or the West Virginia State Police shall seek the advice of both the telephone companies providing local exchange service within the county and the local emergency providers.
(d) As a condition of employment, a person employed as the director of an emergency dispatch center who dispatches emergency calls or supervises the dispatching of emergency call takers is subject to an investigation of their character and background. This investigation shall include, at a minimum, a criminal background check conducted by the State Police at its expense. A felony conviction shall preclude a person from holding any of these positions.
(e) As a condition of continued employment, persons employed to dispatch emergency calls in county emergency dispatch centers shall successfully complete:
(1) A forty-hour nationally recognized training course for dispatchers within one year of the date of their employment; and, (2) An additional nationally recognized emergency medical dispatch course or an emergency medical dispatch course approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services not later than July 1, 2013, or if employed subsequent to July 1, 2013, within one year of the date of employment.
(f) On or before July 1, 2013, the director of each county emergency dispatch center shall develop policies and procedures to establish a protocol for dispatching emergency medical calls implementing a nationally recognized emergency medical dispatch program or an emergency medical dispatch program approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services: Provided, That a county s emergency dispatch center, which utilizes a one-button transfer system, may continue to use this system, if the county s emergency dispatch center establishes policies and procedures which require the agency to whom the call is transferred to remain on the call until a first responder arrives. (g) Each county or municipality shall appoint for each answering point an enhanced emergency telephone system advisory board consisting of at least six members to monitor the operation of the system. The board shall be appointed by the county or municipality and shall include at least one member from affected:
(1) Fire service providers;
(2) Law-enforcement providers;
(3) Emergency medical providers;
(4) Emergency services providers participating in the system; and,
(5) Counties or municipalities.
The director of the county or municipal enhanced telephone system shall serve as an ex officio member of the advisory board. (h) The initial advisory board shall serve staggered terms of one, two and three years. The initial terms of these appointees shall commence on July 1, 1994. All future appointments shall be for terms of three years, except that an appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired term. All members shall serve without compensation. The board shall adopt such policies, rules and regulations as are necessary for its own guidance. The board shall meet monthly, or quarterly. The board may make recommendations to the county or municipality concerning the operation of the system.
(i) Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit or discourage in any way the establishment of multijurisdictional or regional systems, or multijurisdictional or regional agreements for the establishment of enhanced emergency telephone systems, and any system established pursuant to this article may include the territory of more than one public agency, or may include only a portion of the territory of a public agency.
(a) If a county commission decides to adopt an enhanced emergency services telephone system it shall first prepare a proposal on the implementation of the system and shall hold a public meeting on the proposal to explain the system and receive comments from other public officials and interested persons. At least thirty but not more than sixty days before the meeting, the county commission shall place an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the county notifying the public of the date, purpose and location of the meeting and the location at which a copy of the proposal may be examined.
(b) The proposal and the final plan adopted by the county commission shall specify:
(1) Which telephone companies serving customers in the county will participate in the system;
(2) The location and number of county answering points; how they will be connected to a telephone company's telephone network; from what geographic territory each will receive system calls; what areas will be served by the answering point; and whether an answering point will respond to calls by directly dispatching an emergency service provider, by relaying a message to the appropriate provider, or by transferring the call to the appropriate provider;
(3) A projection of the initial cost of establishing, equipping and furnishing and of the annual cost of the first five years of operating and maintaining each county answering point;
(4) How the county will pay for its share of the system's cost; and
(5) How each emergency service provider will respond to a misdirected call.
(c) Within three months of the public meeting required by this section the county commission may modify the implementation proposal. Upon completion and adoption of the plan by the commission, it shall send a copy of the plan to the public service commission, who shall file such plan and ensure that its provisions are complied with.
(d) After a plan is adopted, all telephone companies included in the plan are subject to the specific requirements of the plan and the applicable requirements of this article.
(e) A final plan may be amended only after notice of the proposed amendments is given, as provided in subsection (a) of this section and a new public meeting is held.
(a) In any county or counties which have areas thereof not receiving service from an enhanced emergency services telephone system, the department of public safety may prepare a proposal on the implementation of such a system and may cause a public meeting to be held on the proposal to explain the system and receive comments from the members of the county commission and from other public officials and interested persons. At least thirty, but not more than sixty days, before such a meeting, the department of public safety shall place an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in the county notifying the members of the county commission or county commission and the public of the date, purpose and location of the meeting and the location at which a copy of the proposal may be examined.
(b) The proposal prepared by the department of public safety shall conform to the requirements of subsection (b), section six of this article and shall be further modified, adopted, filed or amended by the county commission only in conformity with said section six.
(b) The wireless enhanced 911 fee is three dollars per month for each valid retail commercial mobile radio service subscription, as that term is defined by the Public Service Commission in its order issued under subsection (a) of this section: Provided, That beginning on the first day of July, two thousand five, the wireless enhanced 911 fee shall include ten cents to be distributed to the West Virginia State Police to be used for equipment upgrades for improving and integrating their communication efforts with those of the enhanced 911 systems: Provided, however, That for the fiscal year beginning on the first day of July, two thousand five, and for every fiscal year thereafter, one million dollars of the wireless enhanced 911 fee shall be distributed by the Public Service Commission to subsidize the construction of towers. The moneys shall be deposited in a fund administered by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, entitled Enhanced 911 Wireless Tower Access Assistance Fund, and shall be expended in accordance with an enhanced 911 wireless tower access matching grant order adopted by the Public Service Commission. The commission order shall contain terms and conditions designed to provide financial assistance loans or grants to state agencies, political subdivisions of the state and wireless telephone carriers for the acquisition, equipping and construction of new wireless towers, which would provide enhanced 911 service coverage and which would not be available otherwise due to marginal financial viability of the applicable tower coverage area: Provided further, That the grants shall be allocated among potential sites based on application from county commissions demonstrating the need for enhanced 911 wireless coverage in specific areas of this state. Any tower constructed with assistance from the fund created by this subdivision shall be available for use by emergency services, fire departments and law-enforcement agencies communication equipment, so long as that use does not interfere with the carrier's wireless signal: And provided further, That the Public Service Commission shall promulgate rules in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the provisions of this subsection. The Public Service Commission is specifically authorized to promulgate emergency rules: And provided further, That for the fiscal year beginning on the first day of July, two thousand six, and for every fiscal year thereafter, five percent of the wireless enhanced 911 fee money received by the Public Service Commission shall be deposited in a special fund established by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to be used solely for the construction, maintenance and upgrades of the West Virginia Interoperable Radio Project and any other costs associated with establishing and maintaining the infrastructure of the system. Any funds remaining in this fund at the end of the fiscal year shall automatically be reappropriated for the following year.
(c) Beginning in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven, and every two years thereafter, the Public Service Commission shall conduct an audit of the wireless enhanced 911 fee and shall recalculate the fee so that it is the weighted average rounded to the nearest penny, as of the first day of March of the respecification year, of all of the enhanced 911 fees imposed by the counties which have adopted an enhanced 911 ordinance: Provided, That the wireless enhanced 911 fee may never be increased by more than twenty-five percent of its value at the beginning of
the respecification year: Provided, however, That the fee may never be less than the amount set in subsection (b) of this section: Provided further, That beginning on the first day of July, two thousand five, the wireless enhanced 911 fee shall include ten cents to be distributed to the West Virginia State Police to be used for equipment upgrades for improving and integrating their communication efforts with those of the enhanced 911 systems: And provided further, That beginning on the first day of July, two thousand five, one million dollars of the wireless enhanced 911 fee shall be distributed by the Public Service Commission to subsidize the construction of wireless towers as specified in said subsection.
(d) The CMRS providers shall, after retaining a three-percent billing fee, send the wireless enhanced 911 fee moneys collected, on a monthly basis, to the Public Service Commission. The Public Service Commission shall, on a quarterly and approximately evenly staggered basis, disburse the fee revenue in the following manner:
(1) Each county that does not have a 911 ordinance in effect as of the original effective date of this section in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven or has enacted a 911 ordinance within the five years prior to the original effective date of this section in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven shall receive eight and one-half tenths of one percent of the fee revenues received by the Public Service Commission: Provided, That after the effective date of this section, in the year two thousand five, when two or more counties consolidate into one county to provide government services, the consolidated county shall receive one percent of the fee revenues received by the Public Service Commission for itself and for each county merged into the consolidated county. Each county shall receive eight and one-half tenths of one percent of the remainder of the fee revenues received by the Public Service Commission: Provided, however, That after the effective date of this section, in the year two thousand five, when two or more counties consolidate into one county to provide government services, the consolidated county shall receive one percent of the fee revenues received by the Public Service Commission for itself and for each county merged into the consolidated county. Then, from any moneys remaining, each county shall receive a pro rata portion of that remainder based on that county's population as determined in the most recent decennial census as a percentage of the state total population. The Public Service Commission shall recalculate the county disbursement percentages on a yearly basis, with the changes effective on the first day of July, and using data as of the preceding first day of March. The public utilities which normally provide local exchange telecommunications service by means of lines, wires, cables, optical fibers or by other means extended to subscriber premises shall supply the data to the Public Service Commission on a county specific basis no later than the first day of June of each year;
(2) Counties which have an enhanced 911 ordinance in effect shall receive their share of the wireless enhanced 911 fee revenue for use in the same manner as the enhanced 911 fee revenues received by those counties pursuant to their enhanced 911 ordinances;
(3) The Public Service Commission shall deposit the wireless enhanced 911 fee revenue for each county which does not have an enhanced 911 ordinance in effect into an escrow account which it has established for that county. Any county with an escrow account may, immediately upon adopting an enhanced 911 ordinance, receive the moneys which have accumulated in the escrow account for use as specified in subdivision (2) of this subsection: Provided, That a county that adopts a 911 ordinance after the original effective date of this section in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven or has adopted a 911 ordinance within five years of the original effective date of this section in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven shall continue to receive one percent of the total 911 fee revenue for a period of five years following the adoption of the ordinance. Thereafter, each county shall receive that county's eight and one-half tenths of one percent of the remaining fee revenue, plus that county's additional pro rata portion of the fee revenues then remaining, based on that county's population as determined in the most recent decennial census as a percentage of the state total population: Provided, however, That every five years from the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven, all fee revenue residing in escrow accounts shall be disbursed on the pro rata basis specified in subdivision (1) of this subsection, except that data for counties without enhanced 911 ordinances in effect shall be omitted from the calculation and all escrow accounts shall begin again with a zero balance.
(e) CMRS providers have the same rights and responsibilities as other telephone service suppliers in dealing with the failure by a subscriber of a CMRS provider to timely pay the wireless enhanced 911 fee.
(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of section one-a of this article, for the purposes of this section, the term "county" means one of the counties provided in section one, article one, chapter one of this code.
(g) From any funds distributed to a county pursuant to this section, a total of three percent shall be set aside in a special fund to be used exclusively for the purchase of equipment that will provide information regarding the x and y coordinates of persons who call an emergency telephone system through a commercial mobile radio service: Provided, That upon purchase of the necessary equipment, the special fund shall be dissolved and any surplus shall be used for general operation of the emergency telephone system as may otherwise be provided by law.
In the event that a conflict arises between county commissions, between telephone companies, between a telephone company or companies and a county commission or commissions, or between the department of public safety and any of the foregoing entities concerning an emergency telephone system or systems or an enhanced emergency telephone system or systems, the public service commission, upon application by such county commission, telephone company or department of public safety, shall resolve such conflict. The resolution of such conflict may include the modification or suspension of any final plan adopted pursuant to section six or six-a of this article or the ordering of the centralization of emergency telephone systems and enhanced emergency telephone systems.
A public agency or a telephone company participating in an emergency telephone system or a county which has established an enhanced emergency telephone system, and any officer, agent or employee of the public agency, telephone company or county is not liable for damages in a civil action for injuries, death or loss to persons or property arising from any act or omission, except willful or wanton misconduct, in connection with developing, adopting or approving any final plan or any agreement made pursuant to this article, or otherwise bringing into operation or participating in the operation of an emergency telephone system or an enhanced emergency telephone system pursuant to this article.
(b) No person may disclose or use, for any purpose other than for an emergency telephone system or enhanced emergency telephone system, any information contained in the data base used for either an emergency telephone system or an enhanced emergency telephone system established pursuant to this article.
(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
In recognition of the fact that information pertaining to numbers of customers and revenues collected by the CMRS providers is obtained and maintained in a competitive environment and that information pertaining to the providers' subscribers could be used to the disadvantage of the participating CMRS provider, the Legislature declares that any such information provided by the public service commission and any county or enhanced 911 program, is not subject to disclosure under the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-b of this code.
(b) For each incident where towing services are required, the public agency procuring towing services shall maintain a public record of the name of the towing service utilized.
(b) Upon proper request and payment of a reasonable fee set by the center director to cover the cost of production, a person or entity may obtain, without court order or a valid subpoena, a transcription of a call for emergency service reporting alleged criminal conduct. The answering point shall exclude from the transcription any information relating to the identity of the caller including, but not limited to, the caller's name, address, telephone number or his or her location in relation to the alleged offense or the alleged perpetrator. If the transcript of a call is such that it cannot be successfully redacted so as to protect the identity of the caller, the answering point may decline to provide the transcript. In that case, the person requesting the transcription may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a court order releasing the transcript.
(c) All calls for emergency service which are recorded electronically, in writing or in any other form are to be maintained for a period of at least ninety days or longer if required by an order entered by a court of competent jurisdiction or a valid subpoena.
(d) A county answering point may release information to bonafide law-enforcement agencies, the prosecuting attorney of a county or a United States attorney pursuant to a lawful criminal investigation. Nothing in this article may be construed as prohibiting a freedom of information request under chapter twenty-nine-b of this code for information relating to the operation of the center or to calls for emergency service which do not involve reporting of alleged criminal conduct.
(e) Nothing in this article requires disclosure of any information that is specifically exempt from disclosure by statute. Except as otherwise provided in this article, nothing prohibits disclosure of information that is not specifically exempted from disclosure under a provision of this code.
(f) Every county answering point shall, within ninety days of the effective date of this section, promulgate a written policy, available to the public, reflecting its compliance with the provisions of this section.
(g) No answering point or center personnel shall be civilly liable for any injury arising from disclosure of information pursuant to the provisions of this section.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2013 1st Special Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.