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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


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



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.