Dispatchers at SNOCOM (Southwest Snohomish County Communications Agency) know that when it comes to emergency calls, time is of the essence. A call that came in early 2016 highlights this fact.
According to SNOCOM Operations Manager Andie Hanson, that early 2016 call was in regards to a man who was unresponsive. To provide help for this urgent situation, the dispatcher was able to use latitude and longitude coordinates generated from the cell phone the caller was using to get first responders on the road.
While these coordinates did not give the street address, it helped ensure a speedy response for the unresponsive man. Once the exact address was given, units were able to be there within three minutes of when the call came in.
"In situations that escalate so quickly, it's imperative that we have the ability to reach the citizens of our county as quickly as possible," Hanson said.
While SNOCOM always had the ability to dispatch first responders to emergencies, this process is more efficient now with the use of their new computer aided dispatch (CAD) software. This software helps dispatchers to communicate with agencies throughout the county regardless of jurisdictional lines.
Hanson said this borderless communication helps reduce the impact of call transfers, increases collaboration, and makes information sharing both immediate and easy. In addition, the easy access to data helps officers in the field to stay safer, as dispatch is able to provide them with real-time information regarding any call they respond to.
In regards to the comatose man, Hanson said that if SNOCOM had been using their old CAD system, help would have arrived later, and those minutes could have added up to a different outcome.
"The real-time information that we have now and the dynamic unit recommendation features of our CAD software helps us to not only protect the public, but to protect officers as well," Hanson said.
Watch a video testimonial from SNOPAC's Rich McQuade
Photo courtesy of Everett Police Department
On New Year's Eve in 2015, the Snohomish County Police Staff and Auxiliary Services Center (SNOPAC), a 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), received a call regarding a mattress fire in an apartment complex.
According to Karl Christian, SNOPAC's Operations Support Specialist, this fire was of special concern due to the size of the apartment complex — 217 apartment homes in total — and the number of lives at stake. Unlike a structure fire at a home or smaller dwelling, this fire had the potential to be harder to control.
Within just five minutes of the initial call for service, the fire had already spread beyond the apartment with the burning mattress. Smoke could be seen billowing out of the second floor of the apartment complex.
One minute after the first string of responders had arrived — four minutes after being dispatched — the fire spread to a separate building. At 7:16 p.m., a mere seven minutes after the initial call for service, the fire emergency was advanced to a second alarm.
As more units were dispatched to the scene from multiple agencies across the county, the fire became more severe and difficult to contain and was moved to a third-alarm. At that time, more than 90 firefighters and emergency personnel had responded to the call.
By the time the blaze had reached third-alarm status, only 11 minutes had passed from the moment the call for service first came in to SNOPAC. With the help of the public safety software system used by both SNOPAC and SNOCOM rescue units from multiple fire districts and jurisdictions were able to be called to the scene. This response helped get the fire emergency under control, and prevented loss of life and additional injuries.
Seven apartments in the complex were affected by the fire, while 23 additional apartments in the complex were damaged by smoke and water. Fifteen residents required medical treatment both on the scene and at the local hospital. Volunteers with the Red Cross were on hand to help displaced residents.
To learn more about New World public safety solutions, read the SNOCOM/SNOPAC Case Study.
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