When a medical emergency happens in the middle of the woods, it's beneficial for the individual and first responders involved to have navigation tools that can get help to where it's needed most.
According to Denise McKinney, Chief of Communications with Ouachita Parish Fire Department in Louisiana, there are some calls where solid mapping capabilities in the communication center's computer aided dispatch (CAD) system are vital.
"Getting first responders to the scene of a crime or medical emergency is always a priority," McKinney said. "We know that speed is of the essence and dispatchers really work hard to send the right response."
When a call came in regarding an elderly man having chest pains in the woods, the dispatcher who took the call knew that the situation could become fatal without an immediate response.
According to McKinney, the man was with his son and they were more than two miles off the road in the woods where they were duck hunting. Using cell phone location coordinates, the dispatcher was able to identify where the call was coming from and send a response.
"When the call came in, we were able to locate the individuals and identify which section of the woods they were in," McKinney said.
With the cellphone coordinates providing a location and the verbal instructions from the 911 caller, dispatchers used satellite views of the CAD maps to view the first responders en route to the scene. This view helped with navigation so that first responders would get to the precise location where help was needed. Within 20 minutes, first responders were on scene providing help to the elderly man.
"We had the tools necessary to show us where this man was located and we got there quickly," McKinney said. "Thankfully, we have the technological capabilities to get help to where it's needed most as quickly as possible. Without this CAD system, that response would have taken much longer."
When a body was found in the Kankakee River in the spring of 2016, public safety professionals worked quickly to identify the remains.
What was known about the body at the time of discovery was that it was a badly decomposed black male who had likely been in the water for up to 10 days. Fingerprint detection was impossible due to the decomposition, which meant public safety officials had to look elsewhere for information.
Using the approximate height, weight, age and race of the body, authorities searched through a national missing person's database in an attempt to identify the man, but found no matching results. National databases such as Forensic Filer and TLOxp Transunion are costly and can take months to generate leads.
However, a break in the case came when the county coroner discovered a rose tattoo on the body. This tattoo, which was located on the neck, was enough of a distinguishing characteristic that the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office would have it in their records and corrections system if the man had ever been in custody.
Trent Bukowski, IT Director for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, searched through his public safety software database to see if any records of previous inmates had a neck tattoo matching the description. Bukowski had a match within minutes.
Using the scars, marks and tattoos module inside the corrections system, Bukowski generated a list of 68 current and former inmates who had neck tattoos. Based on the location of the tattoo on the unidentified man's body, the list of possible matches was brought down to eight. By examining the photos of these eight individuals with neck tattoos, investigators were able to match the unidentified man's tattoo to his booking photo found in the corrections system.
With the identity of the body known, the man's family was contacted and officials were able to close the case. Drowning was the official cause of death for the man found in the river, and drugs were also found in his system.
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