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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


Arming First Responders With Data

Data-driven intelligence goes a long way for first responders.

In Salina, KS dispatchers arm first responders with information that helps keep them safer on the scene of a call for service.

To do this, dispatchers have built-in capabilities in their computer aided dispatch (CAD) system that includes building contact information, known onsite hazards, entry points, notes about prior incidences with residents, and other details that could impact the safety of responders.

This information is especially useful when a call for service comes in regarding someone with any sort of medical condition, according to lead dispatcher Angela Fuller with the Salina Police Department.

Read more from the Salina PD: Patrol officers catch burglars in the act

In one instance, this medical information was used when first responders were headed to an incident involving a residence with numerous disabled residents.

"When we know in advance that there is a situation involving someone with any type of disability, we can let first responders know what they might be dealing with," Fuller said. "This is especially useful in case of a fire emergency so our fire crews know that there could be individuals inside who are unable to evacuate."

First responders view this information on their mobile data terminals, which help them see vital CAD information in real time. With the ability to relay details about a call for service on a mobile device, another layer of privacy is extended to those in need. This is especially beneficial for any call involving sexual assaults and protected medical information.

While medical information is always private and separate radio channels are used for relaying information from dispatch to first responders, mobile CAD provides this same information in real time.

"Without mobile CAD capabilities, first responders would need to call in to dispatch to receive certain information surrounding patient's privacy," Fuller said. "Mobile CAD allows us to keep this private information secure, while also allowing first responders to access the pertinent data immediately."


Firefighters Battle Grass Fire And Tornado

Dispatchers everywhere know that emergency situations can change rapidly.

For instance, when the fire crews in Shawnee County, Kansas were on the scene of a grass fire and a tornado touched down, dispatchers alerted the fire crews to take cover.

"At that time, two things were happening with the situation and back at the dispatch center," Melanie Mills-Bergers, interim director for Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center (SCECC) said. "On one hand we had the fire and the tornado happening. We also had to switch our CAD system from our normal mode of operation into storm mode, which helps us to better facilitate calls for service."

Taking the CAD system into storm mode helps reduce the response of fire personnel due the plethora of calls during a severe storm. It assists with ensuring enough resources are spread throughout the covered area in order to handle the extreme number of calls for service.

Storm mode does not prioritize or relate calls nor assist with duplicate calls.

"When we had fire crews out at the grass fire and that tornado came, we knew they had to get out of there and take shelter," Mills-Bergers said. "We also knew we needed to handle that call for service correctly as it entailed two major events."

To ensure the fire crews were kept safe, they left the scene of the fire and took shelter. By staying in contact with dispatch using their mobile device terminals (MDTs), the fire crew was alerted to when it was safe to return to the area.

"Even with a small tornado, call volumes increase," Mills-Berger said. "Facilitating those calls in storm mode in CAD helps us streamline responses and keep processes flowing. What's important is that we have a system that keeps up with the calls, so that citizens get the help they need when they need it and our first responders have access to as much information as possible through all aspects of a response."  


Police Save Lives During Weather Crisis

Located just around 30 miles off the coast of Texas, between Houston and the Louisiana border, the neighboring communities of Nederland and Port Neches are so close together that it is often difficult to tell where one city ends and the other begins. The proximity between the two communities along with a third nearby city allowed for a unique partnership to form between local law enforcement. In these communities, local agencies rely on each other for basic services, including police dispatch. 

Because all three municipalities are all utilizing the same computer aided dispatch (CAD) software, information flows seamlessly between each of the jurisdictions, according to Nederland Police Chief Darrell Bush.

This connection became a critical component of the police departments' response during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

In just five days, the Nederland broke national records after 64.58 inches of rain drenched the community — 31.38 inches of which came down in a single day. Port Neches wasn't too far behind, receiving 64.51 inches of rainfall during the same time frame. 

Despite the historic rainfall and unprecedented flooding, officers were able to reach the people in need of rescue — regardless of jurisdiction.

"I'll tell you that in a situation like that, you have manuals to go by and you have protocol, but the bottom line is that the actual situation is going to be different, and there is really no way to be proactive except to make sure that the software you're using and any equipment you are going to depend on is good and reliable," Bush said.

Operators in a centralized location were able to coordinate rescue efforts between police departments and dispatch the closest officer to the person in need. While physical barriers blocking roads generally kept officers in their respective jurisdictions, the intercommunity partnership prevented duplicated search and rescue efforts so that nearly 200 lives were saved in a timely manner.


First Responders Race to Locate Missing Child

A missing child is one of the most critical calls for service first responders ever respond to.

When dispatchers with Ouachita Parish 911 in Louisiana received a call regarding a missing child, first responders were immediately sent to the location where the child was last seen.

"It had been two hours since the child was reported missing and there were dozens of first responders in the area searching," Denise McKinney, Chief of Communications with Ouachita Parish Fire Department, said.

When the call for service was made, the caller stated that the child had wandered off from home in a rural location and could not be located by family members. Within minutes, first responders were on the scene performing a search.

After two hours had passed and the child had yet to be located, law enforcement officers worked with those involved in the case and relayed location information back to dispatch. With this extra information, dispatch determined that the child's possible location was a half-mile east of the area rescuers were canvassing.

The dispatcher involved in the call for service updated the possible location in her computer aided dispatch (CAD) system and the change was immediately reflected in the CAD narrative shown on the mobile data terminals (MDTs) used by first responders.

"The search area wasn't as precise as it could have been in the beginning," McKinney said. "Once the changes were made, that information was available to everyone, which helped locate the missing child."

With updated information, a district chief responding to the incident discovered he was in the center of the search area. 

"The CAD map was so accurate that the child literally could have crossed the street first responders were traveling on," McKinney said. "As soon as the district chief saw on his mobile device that he was in the updated search area, he decreased his speed as to not injure the child.  A short time later, the child was located. At that moment, I was so proud to have the CAD system that we have."


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