Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sheriff praises new dispatch system


A new, $1.6 million computer-aided dispatch system used by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and other local first responders will save lives, decrease response time and make the business of dispatch more efficient, said Sheriff Bill Brown during a news conference yesterday.
“By all counts, it’s a much more versatile system,” the Sheriff said. “It’s a major resource improvement.”

The bells and whistles of the new system include global positioning systems in all Sheriff’s Department vehicles, the ability for first responders to view the floor plans of buildings before they enter and additional tools for dispatchers to gather information from callers.
With the system, Brown said dispatchers will now be able identify the general area in which 911 calls are made from cell phones, which prior to now was impossible.
The system, which developed by TriTech Software Systems, is touted as being able to “bridge the communication gap between dispatch and the field.”
One example of this, Brown said, is the ability of dispatchers to see the location of every unit before being dispatched. He said the dispatcher is also able to see the amount of time it would take for each unit to respond.
When a vehicle is dispatched to a location, said Sgt. Alex Tipolt, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, the driver receives directions on their in-car laptops.
The new dispatch system was installed at the Sheriff’s Department’s Public Safety Dispatch Center, which is used for ambulance and fire response as well.
American Medical Response (AMR), which is used on a contract basis by the county, provided about one-third of the total funds for the new system and utilizes it in a similar manner as the Sheriff’s Department.
All of the Montecito Fire Department’s vehicles have also been linked into the system.
Tipolt said the County Fire Department does not yet have the system installed in all of its vehicles, but hopes to as soon as funding becomes available.
Nancy Lapolla, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services, said the system, which has been online since March 12, has already saved lives.
Part of Lapolla’s job is to train dispatchers in medical techniques like CPR and the ins and outs of “interrogating” callers to determine the level of response required.
She said the new system aids in this effort by producing a number of questions for dispatchers to ask callers. The dispatcher punches in a yes or no answer, then the computer determines what sort of response is necessary.
“It really is a zero response time by having the dispatchers be trained,” she said.
Lisa Mathiasen, manager of the Public Safety Dispatch Center, said the new system will help eliminate unnecessary “lights and sirens” responses as well, which can be dangerous when used in excess.
“The system is designed to cut down on that kind of dangerous response,” she said. “It’s gong to save lives.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a shame for the City and the taxpayers. Obviously, the decision makers have not done their homework. Google the Dallas Police Department, or the Minneapolis Police Department. They are trying to get out from under this nightmare.