Sponsored by eDispatches
By Yoona Ha, FireRescueOne BrandFocus Staff
Experiencing a 911 dispatch system failure is every first responder’s worst nightmare. When you understand that it can take only one system malfunction to break the public’s trust, the reality of 911 system failures is dire. A failure in response caused by a technical error can put lives at risk and create a domino effect of liability lawsuits and increased scrutiny on your agency.
Many first responders rely on dated computer-aided dispatch systems that require extensive dispatch involvement. Some of these systems may not even have the capabilities to give first responders the information they need to strategize their response prior to arrival.
The reality is that the risk of not embracing a modern, reliable CAD system with strong customer support is greater than the risk and uncertainty that comes with embracing the change that adopting a new platform brings.
For almost a decade, Pete Grammatas, technical services manager at eDispatches, has seen the evolution of CAD systems. He shared with FireRescue1 three ways an enhanced CAD system like eDispatches can help first responders. Here’s how:
1. No more missed dispatch notices
“Failure is not an option” is a famous slogan from NASA that could just as easily apply to emergency response. Delivering dispatch information directly to first responders is critical because it helps firefighters make more informed decisions on how they’re going to respond to the call.
The enhanced CAD relay service from eDispatches provides responders with the information they need about the call received. The service offers extended coverage that reaches first responders even in areas without a radio signal. The completely automated system sends dispatch notices to phones through text, a voice call or even an app notification, depending on the responder’s preference.
More people today carry their smartphones than radios or pagers. Getting dispatch notices through your phone makes practical sense, plus it’s one less thing that firefighters and EMS staff have to worry about. Using a device that everyone is likely to have at hand makes it far more likely that your responders will get call information and get it faster.
“We’re like the reliable middlemen who manage and distribute information in a way that helps first responders do what they do best: respond to emergency situations,” said Grammatas. “We also filter out information that responders don’t need so they don’t have to take time to decipher what the CAD message is saying.”
Adding and deleting new dispatchers on the dispatch distribution list is also easy – users can simply log into their portal and manage notification alert settings with the click of a mouse.
2. No steep learning curves or additional involvement from dispatchers
For most agencies, introducing a new technological tool requires several hours (sometimes even weeks) of onboarding and training, especially for a new CAD system. But with eDispatches there’s literally no need for dispatch involvement.
Here’s how it works:
Your department would receive a free radio receiver and computer that don’t need a desktop monitor or even a keyboard. The radio receiver will identify your dispatch frequency, and the computer will record the calls that come in. Both tools work together to send that call information over to eDispatches’ servers, which relay information that your department can monitor and manage using a web portal.
“There’s really almost no additional work for the dispatcher once they’ve copied eDispatches into the loop, after that members can manage their CAD notifications from their smartphones,” said Grammatas.
3. Understand staff availability at any given moment
Ultimately, what enhanced CAD systems like eDispatches offers is improved communication. The company’s latest feature is its availability and response capability, which gives fire chiefs the ability to fully understand all volunteer and paid staff availability for each emergency call that comes in.
“For the fire chief it’s kind of like taking attendance before class even begins, and that helps them forecast how many firefighters they have available,” said Grammatas. “Plus it gives everyone full transparency at any given moment.”
In addition to these technical features, eDispatches is committed to making system support available when departments need it the most, Grammatas says. The company offers a 30-day free trial to test out the system’s capabilities.
Your department doesn’t have to live in fear of a CAD malfunction that generates headlines. An enhanced CAD system like eDispatches automates the dispatch process, getting more information to your responders faster.