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NH FD, EMS roll out new CAD system aimed at reducing response times

The new computer-aided dispatch system allows for immediate automated selection of the closest available fire and EMS unit for all emergency calls


The Manchester Fire Department and American Medical Response are rolling out a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system aimed at reducing response times and reliance on mutual aid.

Photo/City of Manchester, NH Fire Department

Paul Feely
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

MANCHESTER, N.H. — City fire officials and staff at American Medical Response this week are rolling out additional advanced life support (ALS) capabilities, and improvements to Manchester’s 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system designed to shorten response times and reduce the need for mutual aid during periods of high demand.

According to Manchester fire officials, calls to Manchester’s EMS system requiring mutual aid ambulances represent less than 1% of all requests for service in the Queen City. Officials expect improvements launching this week to decrease that number even further.

The Manchester fire department’s new computer-aided dispatch system (CAD), which came online in late November, allows for immediate automated selection of the closest available fire and EMS unit to all emergency calls in the city based on each individual unit’s level of capability.

AMR and city fire officials say the new system should reduce the number of times neighboring communities provide mutual aid ALS ambulances, shorten response times on those types of calls, and increase the level of care immediately available to patients.

When demand for ALS-level ambulances exceeds supply and a Basic Life Support (BLS) AMR ambulance is available, MFD’s CAD now automatically recommends that dispatchers send the closest ALS-level fire engine available to that call with an AMR BLS ambulance.

“This is a great example of how technology allows us to increase service levels by better utilization of existing resources,” said Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan.

According to Goonan, under the terms of its current agreement with the city, AMR shares a percentage of reimbursement it receives with the Manchester fire department when city firefighters perform ALS-level skills on calls, resulting in no additional cost to the city for the new service.

“This is a public-private partnership that was developed some time ago and is now reaching its full potential with the addition of this new CAD system,” said AMR Regional Director Chris Stawasz. “It provides more resource availability to Manchester without increased cost.”

Manchester Fire and AMR respond to over 20,000 requests for medical aid in the Queen City on an annual basis, and is the busiest EMS system in New Hampshire.


(c)2020 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)