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True stories from dispatchers, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel who use New World public safety software to help them save lives, protect communities and increase efficiency


Identifying and Patrolling Areas of High Crime

With map-based computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, dispatchers in public safety agencies ensure patrol effectively covers an entire area – not just criminal hotspots. The Greenbelt Police Dept. in Maryland uses this technology to keep their community safe.



System Cuts Time Between Emergencies, Responses in West Virginia County

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail
By Giuseppe Sabella

A Kanawha County sheriff’s deputy used three letters to describe her dangerous foot pursuit: AVL.

The automatic vehicle locator tracks first responders from more than 50 agencies throughout the county, and it may have saved Cpl. Stephanie Adams’ life.

Metro 911 officials said the upgrade launched in September and has since helped law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters and county residents.

Read the full story …


Dispatch Sends Quick Response to School Fire

When a fire tore through an Oregon high school, fire crews worked diligently to prevent injuries to students and staff.

The fire started in early May of 2012, which was just six months after the Marion Area Multi-Agency Emergency Telecommunications Center (METCOM) went live on its computer aided dispatch (CAD) software.

This meant that all those working at METCOM were using new technology that had changed their workflow significantly. However, this structure fire provided METCOM with the opportunity to test the new system and its fire response plan capabilities.

According to METCOM's director Gina Audritsh, when structure fires are reported, dispatchers must task the CAD system with producing an in-depth response. For instance, when a large structure fire is reported, response plans and preplans created by METCOM CAD managers and administrators for specific scenarios are drawn upon for a response.

In the case of the high school fire, as soon as the dispatcher entered the type of call into the CAD system, it knew the appropriate fire district to pull the response from along with which apparatus to send. In this case, three engines and a ladder truck were required for the first alarm.

"As soon as fire crews left the station, we had reports coming in that smoke could be seen coming from the building," Audritsh said. "That bumped the fire up another alarm immediately."

As the fire continued and escalated to a four-alarm response, the dispatcher used the CAD system to look at neighboring jurisdictions to pull more fire crews and apparatus to the school.

"What's great about our CAD system is that it already knows what ladder truck is the closest, which units are available and what stations can respond to any incident," Audritsh said. "This system can go deep within itself to pull more and more resources out so that any emergency gets the proper response. This prevents us from having to get on the phone and call other agencies and departments when an emergency is taking place."

While the school was damaged by the fire, there were no reported injuries and students returned to the building within a week.


Catching Up with The Call

When a massive winter storm dumped almost a foot of snow on York County, PA, dispatchers and first responders worked diligently to provide emergency services to residents of the county. Take a look back at this article and read how call takers and dispatchers working for the York County Dept. of Emergency Services used their computer aided dispatch software to prioritize calls and handle the heavy call volume.


Dispatchers Prioritize Responses in Winter Storm

In March of 2017, just as spring was on the horizon, winter storm Stella dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of Pennsylvania.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) categorized the storm as a level three on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). This score is comprised of the area affected by the snowstorm, the amount of snowfall, and the number of people living in the path of the storm.

However, for the more than 430,000 people living in the county, storm names and categories don't matter that much when roads are impassable, power is out, and motorists are stranded.


Dispatchers Prioritize Responses in Winter Storm

In March of 2017, just as spring was on the horizon, winter storm Stella dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of Pennsylvania.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) categorized the storm as a level three on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). This score is comprised of the area affected by the snowstorm, the amount of snowfall, and the number of people living in the path of the storm.

However, for the more than 430,000 people living in the county, storm names and categories don't matter that much when roads are impassable, power is out, and motorists are stranded.

According to Melony Kearns, computer aided dispatch (CAD) administrator for the York County Dept. of Emergency Services (YCDES), the storm caused an increase in the call volume at the communication center.

"Anytime we get a major weather event, the call volume increases," Kearns said. "But our dispatchers and CAD system handle it well."

To accommodate this increased call volume, Kearns said filters were applied within the CAD system to prioritize weather-related calls. This provided dispatchers with the ability to designate storm calls from other emergencies, which helped streamline responses.

This flexibility in CAD helped dispatchers and first responders meet the needs of the community members impacted by the storm. Prioritizing storm calls also helped dispatchers handle other calls for service coming into the communication center thereby maintaining the level of service expected by the community.

Luckily, Stella dropped most of the snowfall in the middle of the day, which helped with visibility issues for motorists and responders.

"These big storms can cause a lot of problems," Kearns said. "Luckily we have the tools necessary to keep things running smoothly in the community."


The Role of Dispatchers Behind the Scenes

There is a significant amount of work required behind-the-scenes in every emergency response, and it all starts with computer-aided dispatch (CAD).

When a call for service comes in to a 9-1-1 communication center, dispatchers immediately get to work sending a response. From there, first responders head out to provide assistance in whatever manner they are needed. But that doesn't mean the dispatchers' role in the response ends.

For instance, when officers respond to a call for service, they stay in contact with dispatchers at the communication center using their mobile data terminals (MDTs) located in their vehicles.

Read more about the behind-the-scenes work in public safety agencies: Police and Dispatchers Work Together to Capture Criminals in Greenbelt, Maryland

By staying in contact, dispatchers are able to route first responders to the scene and attach real-time updates about the call for service that first responders can see using their MDTs as they travel to the incident.

CAD systems with automatic vehicle location (AVL) functionality offer additional benefits as they provide dispatchers and first responders the ability to see where all first responders' vehicles are located on a digital map.

With AVL, a global positioning system (GPS) is set up on an agency's mobile server and configured so GPS data is sent to the mobile software located in an officer's vehicle. This signal is also sent to other units within the agency and to dispatch. To do this, AVL technology constantly sends latitude and longitude coordinates back to the CAD system so that the unit's location is always known by the agency's dispatchers.

AVL functionality helps dispatchers with routing as it helps direct patrol officers to the location of a call for service and provides continuous estimated time of arrival (ETA) data. By knowing where all first responders are on the map, CAD managers are able to help ensure communities have a robust level of patrol in all areas.

While the work of dispatchers happens outside of the public eye, they play a vital role in emergency responses and providing public safety to communities everywhere.

Increasing Efficiency with the Greenbelt Police Department



A Look at Next Generation 911

Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) is a hot topic for public safety agencies across the United States.

This initiative, which was set forth by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), is aimed at updating 9-1-1 services to accommodate a growing wireless society. It consists of numerous stages, all of which should be completed by 2020.

Until that time, public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the country will be preparing to adhere to guidelines set forth by NENA so they will have the ability to handle modern, mixed media messages from the public.

Text-to-911 is one of the first steps many PSAPs are undertaking along the NG 9-1-1 journey. As TTY (text telephone) services are phased out, the deaf and hearing impaired community will need a way to communicate with emergency services. Text-to-911 will replace TTY services, so it is imperative all PSAPs throughout the country are able to receive, handle and respond to these messages.

As of late 2016, less than 15 percent of PSAPs in the U.S. have the ability to accept text messages.

Video: CAD Users Experience Text-to-911


However, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves for NG 9-1-1 and its various phases so they are prepared when all guidelines are established.

Once all guidelines are in place, PSAPs will have the direction to receive voice, text and data sent over IP networks from various communication devices.


In almost every town in the United States, there are areas that the locals know to avoid if they want to get someplace quickly.

These areas could involve one-way bridges, dirt roads that always wash out after a storm, shorter-than-average overpasses and other potential traffic hazards.

But people can’t always know every backroad in each community. This is especially true when it comes to emergency dispatching services.

Since no community is the same, it is important for computer aided dispatching (CAD) software and emergency 9-1-1 dispatchers using that software to also have solid geographic information system (GIS) data to support real-world scenarios that can impact routing.

Imagine leveraging GIS routing data such as one-ways, speed limits, travel time, max height and weight, and anything else specific to a community right within the CAD software. This would ensure a faster, data-driven response and avoid potential traffic hazards that could delay a response.

For instance, CAD software with the ability to take a community’s unique GIS data into consideration would prevent a ladder truck from being routed over a town’s old wooden bridge with a weight restriction or low overhang.

Using this data, dispatchers would be able to route vehicles to a call for service without ever having to worry about the emergency vehicle encountering a scenario that could delay service.

A community’s unique GIS data helps dispatchers to always send the fastest, smartest response.


What to Expect with Next Generation 911

This is part 1 of a 6-part series on Next Generation 911.
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six

The manner by which the world communicates via phone has changed.

Recognizing this change, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) developed Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1).

NG 9-1-1 is an initiative aimed at updating 9-1-1 emergency services to accommodate a growing wireless society and provide individuals with additional ways to reach out for emergency services. It allows for the public to communicate with 9-1-1 emergency services the same way most people communicate with each other today using text and multi-media messages on mobile phones.

In 2000, NENA first began to address the shift in how individuals communicate via phone and the need for the public to be able to talk to 9-1-1 emergency services in different ways. By 2003, NENA started to create standards for what NG 9-1-1 really meant.

The goal with NENA's initiative was to provide guidelines for public safety answering points (PSAPs), which would define requirements for PSAPs to follow. However, as of 2016, these requirements have not been fully defined.

Many PSAPs are preparing for NG 9-1-1 requirements by updating technology to enable the acceptance of voice, video, text and data sent over IP networks from various communication devices.

Communicating with 9-1-1 services using NG 9-1-1 technology will work the same way communication via smartphones does now for personal usage. However, instead of sending messages between friends, family, coworkers and the like, messages will be exchanged between the general public and emergency text call takers.

The goal of this technology is to make sure individuals can communicate with 9-1-1 services in a variety of ways. It is the goal of NENA to make sure public safety agencies have guidelines and standards to follow when adaptation of this technology becomes mandatory.

Read part two of this series »


Police Keep Community Safe Using Mission-Critical Data

When a 9-1-1 hang up call comes into a dispatch center, call takers immediately call back to determine whether help is needed or not. But when dispatchers call back and don't get an answer, they know there could be a problem.

When dispatch personnel with the Greenbelt Police Department received a 9-1-1 hang up call in early 2016, they immediately called back and were connected to a fax machine.

Dispatch searched the number in their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and was able to come up with an address associated with the number so that an officer could head out to the location. The first officer routed to the location quickly investigated the situation and individual on the scene.

According to CAD Manager Mike Dewey of the Greenbelt Police Department, that officer on the scene immediately identified that the individual at the apartment was possibly undergoing some kind of mental health issue or under the influence of drugs.

While on the scene, the officer accessed premise history through his mobile data terminal in his patrol car and was able to see that a known Phencyclidine (PCP) user lived on the premises.

"PCP is a hallucinogenic drug that has a tendency to cause violent outbursts," Dewey said. "PCP can be an extremely dangerous addition to any call for service, and in this scenario, the lone officer was able to back out of the environment and call for sufficient additional resources."

According to Dewey, without the data sharing between the records and mobile solutions in the police department's public safety software to provide instant prior history information, this situation could have been dangerous for the officer and the individual who made the 9-1-1 call.

Instead, additional units responded to help the officer, which ensured there was no injury to the officers or the individual under the influence of drugs.

"Without enough officers to effectively handle the scene, you risk injury to everyone involved," Dewey said. "Our software helps us prevent these situations from happening."