How Departments Can Start Seeing Everything

How Departments Can Start Seeing Everything

Saturday, 01 January 2022 09:53

When an emergency call comes in, we want to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. Prompt response times can save not only structures, but lives. However, rushing in blindly, headfirst, and without the appropriate information can put emergency personnel and bystanders at risk.


Information Overload

Our cities and towns are constantly growing and changing, and with that growth, the information needed for an efficient emergency response changes as well. Road construction can alter traffic movement and the location of water lines and hydrants.

Urbanization and the push for energy efficiency have altered the landscapes we live and work in. Buildings in major cities and towns have higher occupancy, and the construction materials used may have more flammable properties than traditional ones.

It can be hard to keep up-to-date records on hand for every emergency with all this changing information. And attempting to access the needed details by hand when an urgent call comes in can be cumbersome, if not impossible. 

Having accurate and accessible information for the dispatch and responding teams is critical for a successful call.

How Departments Can Start Seeing Everything

Situational awareness and information is the key to efficient and effective emergency response. There are several steps your department can take to have the blinders off in emergencies. 

Before a call comes in, having a pre-plan for buildings can help dispatch send just the right equipment to the situation in a timely manner. During a call, having the framework for effective communication can keep responding teams coordinated. The best way to create and use vital information and communicate effectively is for fire and EMS stations to utilize Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) technology.

Accurate and Accessible Pre-Planning

When everyone has access to the best and most up-to-date information, the risk of injury and property damage is at its lowest. Going into a situation blind does no one any favors. You need the right mobile response software and a good pre-plan that stores vital information for a service area, including:

  • Road maps and route information
  • Hydrant access with flow capacity, outages, the main size, and locations
  • Street size, construction work zones, and traffic flow patterns
  • Building occupancy numbers for the area
  • Structure floor plans including physical access points such as doors, staircases, and security checkpoints
  • Building construction materials and hazardous waste locations
  • Emergency plans for more prominent locations, including contact information and evacuation protocols

A detailed plan is only as good as the accuracy of its information. Ensure that the fire department pre-plan software you use is updated regularly to reflect the change in building structures and roads. Accurate pre-plan information increases the protection for emergency responders and citizens.

Having this information available to all responders is vital no matter their location. Written communication and paperwork take time to access, wasting time in an emergency. 

StreetWise SmartBoards/Resource Monitor at a station or dispatch center can help an incident commander coordinate the response, while mobile tablets can keep field response teams aware of the necessary information. 

Mobile Communication

Miscommunication can make even the best-laid plans go awry. Make sure your command center and response teams can communicate updates instantly. 

Knowing who is responding to an emergency call and their ETA is crucial. Real-time tactical maps improve coordination by allowing responders to know just what staffing level and apparatus is en route to the incident.

Roadwork can pop up for just a few hours that might impede navigation, and security codes for gated communities can change. Having a system that allows responding units to mark this information in real-time on a map can save other responders vital time by enabling them to re-route before it becomes an issue for the entire emergency response. Mobile GPS with shared waypoints can make this accurate and easy, giving turn-by-turn directions for detours. 

Reliable fire and EMS communication tablets and smartphones give firefighters and medical personnel the ability to see everything they need in the field. 

Timestamps and Reporting

Knowing how long it takes emergency units to get to locations is essential to coordinating fire and medical service call responses. Record management of response time from when a call comes in, a team being en route, when first water is applied, to response completion leads to better service in an area. 

The closest emergency response unit might have to go through busier streets and take longer than one a little further away from another direction. Being able to reliably and quickly record incident status times without contacting busy dispatchers or on crowded radio channels can give you accurate information and benchmarks to make decisions effectively at dispatch.

Get a Unified System

Effective emergency response requires a lot of information and communication across numerous roles and departments. Make sure your firefighters and paramedics aren’t stumbling around in the dark or under information overload by investing in a unified system.

Headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, StreetWise® is a comprehensive information service suite for emergency service response. Our range of software covers everything in CAD, from pre-incident planning response data and digital dispatch to CADlink tablet software and mobile responder applications to keep teams connected in the field.

We believe technology has opened up new possibilities for providing smart and safe emergency responses. Contact us today to learn more about the StreetWise® system, or set up a free demo to see for yourself what makes us different.