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eDispatches: 20 years of service to first responders

Reflecting on the impact of the company’s fire service impact, plus a look to the future

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From its beginnings in 2004, eDispatches has become an industry leader in providing essential communication services to emergency responders, from the smallest volunteer fire company to the largest municipal fire department. As the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, let’s take a walk down the proverbial memory lane, reflecting on the impact of eDispatches’ innovations over the years.

The spark that ignited the fire

In 2003, Tom Stearn was a full-time IT professional and volunteer firefighter in Morris County, New Jersey. One day, while grocery shopping, his fire department-issued pager did not alert him to an emergency in the very grocery store where he was shopping.

That event moved Stearn to develop a solution that would prevent such incidents in the future. By using his IT background and his volunteer firefighter experience, he set out to create that solution. The result of his efforts was the birth of eDispatches.

The signature product: Audio dispatching service

The eDispatches service sought to solve the problem of first responders missing alerts from traditional radios and pagers, particularly due to poor or out-of-range signal strength, by sending the same dispatch information and more to what was an emerging technology in 2004: smartphones.

The eDispatches model quickly changed how emergency responders received dispatch information. The company’s signature product is the audio dispatching service, which bridges the gap between traditional pagers and modern smartphones. Here’s how it works:

  • Anywhere, Anytime Alerts: Instead of relying solely on pagers or radios, first responders receive audio dispatches directly on their wireless devices (e.g., smartphone, tablet).
  • Reliability and Range: The eDispatches equipment records dispatch messages and sends audio alerts wirelessly. Unlike radio pagers, there are no range limitations, ensuring coverage wherever responders go.
  • Automated Notifications: When new dispatches occur, responders receive real-time alerts. The eDispatches mobile app delivers audio and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) information promptly.

Advancements over the years

One of eDispatches innovations is its Enhanced CAD Relay service, an improved version of the company’s original text message-based CAD Relay service.

With the eDispatches app, firefighters can receive CAD messages directly in their eDispatches app (for both iOS and Android wireless devices) as well as via text message or direct phone call if they don’t have the app. Included in all packages:

  • Audio Dispatching: Hear the call being dispatched over your department’s radio frequency.
  • CAD Dispatching: See the same text information that your public safety telecommunicators see on their screens.
  • Mapping: You don’t just get an address; you can see exactly where the emergency is on a map with directions from you and your phone’s location.
  • Response and Availability: Know who’s responding and what their qualifications are (e.g., firefighter/EMT, hazmat tech) by enabling members to log in to report that they’re responding to an emergency call. The Availability feature allows members to set a response for active calls and set their availability status so you can forecast who’s going to a call before it happens.
  • Mass Messaging: Provides a powerful tool for promptly communicating essential information (e.g., training classes, cancellation of a training class, meetings) to all members.
  • New in 2024 Chat: A real-time back and forth space within our mobile app for your agency to communicate by text in real time.

All these features are included with all eDispatches plans and come with free technical support. Additionally, the company offers a minimum free 30-day trial for any department interested in trying the service, and they provide free shipping of the necessary equipment to get your department started.

What’s ahead?

As eDispatches celebrates 20 years, the company is still committed to no emergency responder being in the position its founder, Tom Stearn, found himself in that day in the supermarket.

Their in-house development team continues to push boundaries, so that the next two decades bring even more innovation and support to those firefighters who serve our communities. Many of eDispatches’ employees are volunteer or career firefighters – they’ve “been there, done that” – and the company uses that knowledge and experience to continually improve their service.

Learn more about eDispatches and join the company in celebrating this milestone at

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Beyond his writing for and, Avsec authors the blog Talking “Shop” 4 Fire & EMS and has published his first book, “Successful Transformational Change in a Fire and EMS Department: How a Focused Team Created a Revenue Recovery Program in Six Months – From Scratch.” Connect with Avsec on LinkedIn or via email.