Emergency services represent the core of any society. Having access to EMS, Fire, and LEO is what keeps communities safe. That being said, the nature of emergencies is slowly changing.
With metropolitan areas growing and evolving, high-density population centers are pushing the emergency service infrastructure to its limits. The only way of maintaining efficiency is through improved resource management. This is exactly where computer aided dispatch systems come into play.
What is the Purpose of Computer Aided Dispatch Systems?
Every city, town, and jurisdiction has its emergency service dispatch center. This is essentially a call center that handles all 911 calls in any given area. The person who answers the phone when you dial 911 is a dispatcher or dispatch operator. Their job is to handle whatever emergency you’re dealing with by dispatching the right type of help your way. If you’re having someone breaking into your house, the dispatcher will get in touch with law enforcement units in your area and redirect them to your address. Likewise, if you’re having a medical emergency, the dispatcher will send EMS your way.
The key to solving 911 calls is to get help to those in need within the shortest time frame possible. There are several ways a dispatcher can reduce emergency units’ response time.
- Faster data processing – Every time a 911 call is placed, the dispatch operator is in a race against time to understand the nature of the emergency, where the emergency is taking place, and what type of resource they need to send. Extracting this information from a 911 call can take time depending on the caller.
- Easier Access to Resources – Another way to optimize response time is to have easier access to all necessary resources. In other words, the dispatch operator should be able to reach Fire, EMS, or LEO units using a single system.
Computer aided dispatch systems can help with both of these tasks. By implementing a CAD system into a dispatch center, you are giving the operators all the tools they need to do their job in the most efficient way possible.
How does a Computer Aided System Help Dispatchers?
Once a call is made to 911, the dispatcher answers and starts working on the details. With a police CAD system in place, the dispatcher doesn’t have to extract the most basic data. Instead, the system does this job for them, leaving the operator with more time to focus on other priorities as the situation develops.
As they are getting more and more information, the CAD system allows dispatchers to feed the new data to responding units in real-time using various communications channels. For instance, some data can be fed to responding officers via radio, while other types of data will become available to them through the mobile digital terminal that is present in every police cruiser.
Another way a CAD is making the dispatcher’s job easier is by allowing the operator to manage available resources more efficiently. For example, they get to prioritize calls based on available information and assign nearby units as necessary.
The fact that most CAD systems are tied into the automatic vehicle location network means that dispatchers know where each fire truck, police cruiser, or ambulance is located within their jurisdiction, at any given time.
Modern CAD Systems and Emergency Situations
Not all CAD systems are created equal. In fact, they differ depending on the size and needs of the department that is using them. Larger emergency response centers that cover large territories are usually fitted with CAD systems that incorporate a number of advanced features. Some offer automated resource allocation while others incorporate cross-jurisdiction support depending on the nature of the emergency.
Why Every Dispatch Center Needs a CAD
The need for computer aided dispatch systems is clear. Such systems reduce emergency response times, greatly improve emergency preparedness and ultimately save lives. Fitting an emergency center with a modern CAD is an investment. However, every municipality, no matter how small or large, will only benefit from such a decision.
Having a CAD means that your emergency services will be used much more efficiently. Increased efficiency reduces idle times, accidental misuse of resources, and other wasteful practices. Over time, whatever costs were incurred to install and maintain a CAD system are offset by the savings stemming from improved efficiency.
Last but not least, in case of mass casualty events or natural disasters, a CAD system is the only thing that will ensure cross-agency coordination and clear lines of communications between various jurisdictions.