News : System to Improve How 911 Calls are Handled
Jan 1, 2015 -- In 2015, a new city-county computer aided dispatch system called CAD is expected to reduce fire and medical call handling for the city of Ocala by up to 40 seconds.
Currently, 911 calls within the city of Ocala come to a 911 call center inside the Ocala Police Department on Pine Avenue while all 911 calls within county jurisdiction come into the Public Safety Communications Center in the Emergency Operations Center adjacent to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office administration building.
Calls for law enforcement from within the city limits are handled at the OPD center but Fire Rescue and medical calls are transferred by the OPD 911 call taker to a 911 call taker at the county center. The 911 call taker at the Public Safety Communications Center sends the information to CAD personnel to dispatch fire and medical personnel and equipment.
The CAD assistance will help with response equipment selection and finding closest available units, especially in the case of roving ambulance units. It will erase city-county boundaries for medical and fire 911 dispatching, said Public Safety Communications manager Bill McConnell.
OPD Capt. Carmen Sirolli said the coordination process between the city and county centers is a "CAD to CAD" interface. "The city 911 center typically has about three to four call takers and about three dispatchers. The staff will receive training for the EFD (emergency fire dispatch) standards and EMD (emergency medical dispatch) standards to supplement EPD (emergency police dispatch) standards," Sirolli said.
"After the interface is in place, (city) call takers will be able to fully fill out the information sheet and send direct to dispatch at the county," Sirolli added.
Public Safety Communications is a county agency. Director Karl Oltz said the new CAD software should shave between "20 to 40 seconds" off the call-handling portion of the city of Ocala’s 911 fire and medical calls.
Oltz said Public Safety Communications gets about 600,000 calls annually, including 911, On-Star and administrative, which are all handled by about 18 call takers in the daytime and 16 at night. Each call taker monitors at least six information screens that include emergency medical response information.
"We get about 175 calls daily for Marion County Fire Rescue and Ocala Fire Rescue and about 1,200 law enforcement-related calls for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the cities of Dunnellon and Belleview," Oltz said.
"The (911) telecommunicators take the call and get the basic information including the caller’s address, contact phone number and the nature of the call. The computer system sorts it out and sends the information to the dispatchers to handle sending the required law enforcement, fire, emergency medical (response) or any combination," Oltz said.
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"About 75 percent of incoming 911 calls now come from cellphones. We can locate the Phase II smartphones down to about 30 feet. We had a case where a woman was kidnapped and put in a trunk. She called 911 and we were able to track the call from Dunnellon to Silver Springs," Oltz said,
Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Bradd Clark tracks the 911 call history for each of the six OFR stations.
There are myriad issues that affect response time, including traffic, time of day, weather, school zones, railroad tracks and so forth. Some calls involve assistance or cooperation out of the station’s normal coverage area and must be taken into consideration, he said.
Clark said he is in "partnership" with Public Safety Communications to continue enhancing 911 protection for citizens.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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