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New York City To Install GPS Systems In All Fire And EMS Vehicles

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today announced that all New York City ambulances and Fire Department apparatus including engines, ladder trucks, rescue companies and battalion vehicles will be equipped with the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system by the end of the summer.

AVL utilizes Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to track the real-time movements of any equipped vehicle, helping dispatchers more accurately deploy emergency resources. AVL began in September 2005 as a pilot program with five engine companies on Staten Island and FDNY EMS units on Staten Island and in Southern Brooklyn. Under the system, EMS response times to the most serious medical emergencies (Segments 1-3) were reduced by 33 seconds.

By June 30, all City ambulances participating in the 911 system will be fully equipped with AVL. Implementation of the system in all fire apparatus will be completed by the end of the summer. In total, 1,565 Fire and EMS vehicles throughout the City will be equipped with AVL at a cost of nearly $50 million.

“In an emergency, every second counts,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That’s why the AVL technology we’ve piloted on Fire Department vehicles is so promising. In ambulances alone, response times to the most serious medical emergencies have decreased by more than half a minute — a lifetime if you’re experiencing a heart attack or other serious condition. By providing our dispatchers with a real-time ‘picture’ of where resources are located, we’ll get help where it’s needed more quickly and efficiently. This is a great investment in the health and safety of all New Yorkers.”

“As a result of this new technology we have already experienced a 33-second decrease in response times to the most serious calls within the initial AVL areas,” said Commissioner Scoppetta.

“In an emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life and death. We are confident that this new technology will provide our dispatchers with the most accurate unit location information, even as ambulances travel through tunnels, under highways and between skyscrapers.”

Currently, EMS Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) recommends the best EMS unit to deploy based on where ambulances are assigned throughout the City.

However, because ambulances are not dispatched from a central location and are able to move within their response areas — AVL is invaluable in providing a real-time update of where resources are actually located.

Combined with CAD, AVL is a powerful tool that creates a visual map of where emergency resources are located and their movements. Using a constellation of 24 satellites orbiting the earth, the AVL system combines GPS technology and street-level mapping to pinpoint the longitude, latitude and course direction of any equipped vehicle.

Improvements in EMS response times under AVL have been significant. Prior to AVL, during an average four-month period the response time to the most serious life-threatening emergencies (Segment 1-3) was 6 minutes and 55 seconds. After the implementation of AVL, during the same four-month period in the same response areas, the average response time was reduced to 6 minutes and 22 seconds — a 33 second decrease.

Implementation of AVL on fire apparatus began on Monday will be completed by the end of the summer. All engine, ladder and rescue companies and battalion vehicles throughout the five boroughs will be equipped with the system by the end of the summer. By June 30, 798 ambulances citywide ? including voluntary hospital ambulances — will be dispatched under the new system. AVL is currently installed on 277 ambulances in Staten Island, Brooklyn and parts of Queens.

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