Carroll County's new computer-aided dispatch 911 emergency system is up and running.
Lieutenant Cheryl Keyser, who coordinates 911 operations for the county, announced at the May 8 meeting of county commissioners that the system began operating on April 26 after dispatchers completed training April 24 and 25.
The CAD software stores more information than the county's old 911 dispatch system and enables that information to be shared with emergency responders more quickly. The goal, according to Board Vice President Robert Wirkner, is for the CAD to provide enhanced dispatching ability that will link up with Next Generation 911 software and infrastructure, which the county has been developing a pilot version of over the past two years.
Keyser said the CAD software activates on a dispatcher's computer as soon as the dispatcher picks up the phone receiver to answer a 911 call. When the call is received from a land-line phone, the system automatically embeds information about a caller's location and other information, enabling the dispatcher to alert emergency responders in moments.
For now, cell phone calls require the dispatcher to manually enter the caller's address into the system, but Keyser said eventually Next Generation software will also embed those calls with location information. Obtaining a cell phone caller's location is also easier with the CAD software, which identifies the caller's address within 30 seconds, a big change from the county's old, slower system, said Keyser.
The CAD mapping software includes longitude and latitude for all verified addresses as well as specific geographic information, such as the size and depth of ponds near a fire, which Keyser said is important for fire departments to know.
Once the cell phone caller's address is entered, the dispatcher can use the computer's mouse to select from a list of emergency response agencies that appear on the computer's screen and drag an agency's unit number to the caller's location on the CAD system's map. Additional responders can be sent to the scene with a click of the dispatcher's mouse. The software will also stamp each of these "clicks" with a time, saving the dispatcher time that would otherwise be spent typing the information.
A quick click of the word "Dispatch" on the computer screen sends a text message with call information directly to all of the emergency responders affiliated with a response agency. Keyser said she has been working with the county's emergency response agencies to sign up responders for the text message service.
Carroll County Sheriff Dale Williams also receives instant notification of serious emergencies, such as fatal vehicle accidents, as text messages on his cell phone. Keyser said the CAD system is able to send address and other information to him as soon as a dispatcher processes an emergency call.
Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies are able to use the CAD system on laptops called Mobile Data Terminals that are located in their cruisers. Keyser said the laptops are specially made to "take a beating" along bumpy roadways.
Along with faster response times to emergencies, the CAD includes layers of address information that Keyser said helps dispatchers route help quickly. Address information is searchable by keyword. For example, said Keyser, if a caller reports an emergency at a pizza restaurant, the dispatcher can search for all addresses containing the word "pizza" in the CAD system. The dispatcher can then ask the caller in what city they are located to identify the correct address.
When the location appears on the computer's map, the dispatcher can see the location as well as nearby cross streets. Fire service, EMS and law enforcement that normally respond to emergencies in that area appear on a list for quick reference when the dispatcher submits the call for dispatching.
Keyser said the CAD's mapping technology also includes the ability to layer information for certain areas or buildings. For example, Keyser said she is working to link video footage from security cameras placed in schools, as well as floor plans for the schools, with the CAD database, which will help emergency responders navigate school buildings quickly.
"It's like a video game for dispatchers," she commented.
The new system uses software called Net Motion to provide a constant, secured connection between sheriff's cruisers and the dispatch center in the sheriff's department, a key aspect in a county filled with hills and valleys. Keyser said while the county's old 911 software had to be reloaded if a deputy in his cruiser lost the wireless signal, Net Motion remains up and running. The software keeps searching for a signal, and when the signal is found, data transmits directly from the cruiser to the dispatch center.
"It's constant, looking-for-a-signal software, and it's working. It's state-of-the-art. The guys love this," Keyser remarked.
Net Motion software is available to any law enforcement or fire agency. The software also sends instant text messages about fires to firefighters' cell phones as soon as a dispatcher refers a fire emergency from a 911 call.
"In the past, the fire stations' emergency services had the ability to receive a fax that indicated basic information on the call. They would peel that off, get in the trucks, and run. The deal was that if there was new information, they're not going to get it unless it's over the open air waves by radio," Wirkner explained. "Now, with this program, the updates keep flowing to them. So if they go into a valley, lose the signal, as soon as they pop into an area with a signal, the information updates wherever they're going."
"Everyone is sold on this software," said Keyser. "The project is actually moving really well. The dispatchers love it. It's almost too easy."
Carroll County now heads into the final stretch of its 911 upgrades as its Next Generation 911 software vendor, Frontier Communications, works on a system to share 911 information received in the sheriff's department dispatch center with Ohio's computer center in Columbus.
In other business, the board:
HEARD the County Dog Pound report for April 30 May 6: six dogs impounded, four adopted, four redeemed, none euthanized, 19 citations for no license and two citations for running at large.
APPROVED a motion to hold a public viewing of five roads in Rose Township on Wednesday, May 31, at 9:30 a.m. and to conduct a public hearing on Thursday, June 1, at 9:45 a.m., about a proposal to vacate the roads.
Board President Jeff Ohler said the board received the public road petition from from Rose Township trustees, who have asked to vacate Harvest Road (Township Road 167), Thistle Road (T.R. 667), Honor Road (T.R. 176), Hope Road (T.R. 177) and Hemp Road (T.R. 168).
Commissioner Lewis Mickley said County Engineer Brian Wise notified the board that the roadways are no longer passable by vehicle because of their rough terrain.