Saving Lives with CAD Technology

New World Public Safety The Call

Saving Lives with CAD Technology

Using public safety software technology, dispatchers and first responders were able to locate injured uncommunicative individuals within minutes. Without this technology and the quick response by first responders, these stories could have ended tragically.

When Words Fail

"I've been hit."

Those three words are what came over the radio to dispatch. The call taker didn't know whether the officer meant he had been a victim of gunfire or involved in a collision. With the call coming in at 2 a.m., it was possible that the officer had come across the scene of a crime or a drunk driving incident.

Because of the officer's injuries, he was dazed and confused and unable to advise on his precise location.

The call taker immediately used a feature of her Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software to zoom to the officer's vehicle on a map. Within seconds, the officer's location was known and additional units were en route to provide help.

After the investigation into the incident occurred, it was discovered that the officer was stopped at a red light and was hit from behind by another vehicle traveling at 35 mph. The other driver was not impaired, but had failed to brake and hit the police officer's vehicle at full force.

The officer suffered a broken neck, but is expected to make a full recovery.

This all happened in early March of 2016 in the city of El Cajon, California. Wendy Sue, Communications Manager for the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center for El Cajon, said this case was of special significance because it showed how first responders were able to come to the aid of a fellow officer thanks to the fast work of dispatch.

Sue said that even a few years ago, when the city did not yet have GPS capabilities, dispatch would have no other option than to set up grid searches to find the officer.

"It's a very tedious process," Sue said. "In this case, the officer involved in the incident was responsible for an area across town. Without GPS capabilities, we would have sent units to his previous location and would have started the searches in his sector. Since he was several miles outside of his sector, who knows how quickly we would have found him."

Because dispatchers were able to use the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) feature of their CAD software, the officer was saved and tragedy was averted.

"This is a prime example of how great our software is and how it provides assistance even when words fail," Sue said.

Responding to the Unresponsive

Those who work in law enforcement are some of the best multi-taskers in the world. As anyone who has ever been on a ride along can attest to, these individuals have the ability to communicate with dispatch via radio, perform searches on license plates and individuals using their in-unit mobile devices, and constantly utilize the information at their fingertips without missing a beat.

That is why when a deputy on patrol fails to communicate with dispatch, it is a red flag that something is wrong.

When a deputy with the Greene County Sheriff's Office stopped communicating with dispatch in late 2015, dispatchers immediately knew something was wrong.

According to Sergeant Jonathan Emery, when the deputy on patrol quit responding, everyone knew that something had to be done to find him.

At first, there was a fear that something had happened to him as a result of a crime. Finding the deputy quickly was a top priority in case his life was in danger.

Fortunately, dispatchers with the Greene County Sheriff's Office had the capability to use the AVL functionality of their CAD software to locate the deputy's vehicle.

By using this tool, they were quickly able to see that he had crashed and his vehicle was in a field. The deputy had crashed as a result of a medical emergency and had no memory of what had happened. He was uninjured and received medical care for his condition.

"Using AVL to pinpoint his location showed us exactly where he was," Emery said. "This tool helps all of us to do our jobs better and save lives even when it comes down to the first responders in need."

Using Cell Phone Coordinates to Locate the Lost

There are few things better on a summer day than getting out on the water. That's what two individuals in southern Ohio decided to do in the late summer of 2015.

They launched their canoe and set off for a trip down the Little Miami River. The day started off normally, but soon the two individuals found themselves marooned on a small island within the river and unable to find their way back home.

With this information, first responders with the Beavercreek Township Fire Department and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office were able to perform a water rescue and get the canoers back to safety.

With this information, first responders with the Beavercreek Township Police Department were able to perform a water rescue and get the canoers back to safety.

According to Emery, the mapping capabilities utilized in this rescue helped first responders to view photos of the area where the canoers went missing.

Being able to view photos in CAD comes from the Pictometry functionality in the CAD software. This feature helps dispatch to see real-life examples of places in a given area so that they can help first responders reach those in need as quickly and safely as possible.

Learn more about the El Cajon Police Department »

Learn more about the Greene County Ohio Sheriff's Office »

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The Anatomy of a Response: Fast Facts on Police Responses in the United States


  • According to American Police Beat, the average response time for an emergency call is 10 minutes. Atlanta has the worst response time with 11 to 12 minutes and Nashville comes in at a lightning speed of 9 minutes.
  • The Department of Justice, reports that the best average response time is 4 minutes and the worst is over an hour. Rural areas see a much longer average response time.