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New dispatch system improves response times for Elkhart fire

WSBT 22

Elkhart firefighters are giving the thumbs up to a new dispatch system that has helped reduce their response times.

Until recently, they were dispatched with an outdated system that wasn't always dependable.

Dispatchers at the 911 Center in Elkhart still take calls and information for the fire department. But fire crews are now toned-out with a computer generated voice.

It’s made possible with the help of the new, recently installed G2 dispatch system. It starts to give information as soon as dispatchers enter it on the computer.

“Just as we can type in some information into the computer, it sends it out through the city network and alerts all stations that they have a call. It also goes out over the radio, so it multi-tasks and does that,” said Adam Amsden with the 911 Center.

Previously, the call could not be toned out by an actual dispatcher until they had typed in every bit of information.

Now, fire crews are dispatched over the radio by a computer-generated voice. They also receive information on a display at each fire house that stays up for several-minutes.

They can also get call information on their cell phone.

With this new system, they can get out the door much quicker. Early on they are given the location of the fire and as they head there they get information that updates them on the nature of the response, how many units are needed and what is happening at the scene.

“They are able to get us at least moving towards the rigs a lot faster than we use to. That just helps us get on scene quicker, the faster we can get on scene and get to work, the quicker we can mitigate whatever we are going out on,” said Chief Wade Snider.

In some cases, it could cut 30 seconds or more off their response time.

“They say as the first five minutes go, so will go the whole fire. So if we can get ahead on that fire in the first minute or two we can get a knock down,” said Snider.

“It has far exceeded our expectations on everything we have done so far,” said Amsden.

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