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Phone app could help fire and rescue response time

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WAHOO – A new web-based software service used by Wahoo and Mead first responders could help shave up to eight minutes off response times, when implemented across the county.

Wahoo EMS Chief Grant Anderson and Wahoo Fire Chief Cody Hull are working with the Saunders County Sheriff’s Office on how to implement IamResponding.com across the county’s fire and rescue departments.

Anderson said the problem now is when dispatchers receive a 911 call, there can be up to eight minutes that pass before they receive information from first responders to know who is responding, how many are responding and whether they need to make a call for mutual aid.

“It will help best with the initial response,” Anderson said.

Volunteers carry hip mounted pagers that alert them when dispatch sends out a page.

Anderson said this program would not replace the pagers. Through a downloaded smart-phone app, the first responder could relay back immediately to dispatch that they are responding and how far out they are from the station.

Anderson said the software would be integrated with dispatch’s current system that was recently updated and would show a map of where all first responders are, where they are en route from and what equipment they are bringing.

Another benefit would be staffing knowledge, especially with paramedics. It could give dispatch a snapshot staffing across the county, he said.

In addition to the location of first responders, Anderson said the mapping tool could help immensely in other areas.

First responders could see maps on their own devices as to where hydrants are located and where burn permits have been issued.

Anderson said they have been using some of the features of the program for five years and have already logged in information. He said they are comfortable with the program.

Mead has been using the program for two years as well.

Mead Rescue Captain Andrew Eckhart said the program is a step in the right direction with getting departments on the same page.

It will help when responding to mutual aid calls and knowing where hydrants are with the mapping tool, he said.

Cass County implemented the system county0wide last year.

Eckhart works full-time for Cass County’s rescue squad and said they get a lot of use out of the program, as they use it to its fullest potential.

The software updates annually and also contains full reporting capabilities, Anderson said.

In addition to eliminating one reporting system, it will track the inventory of medical supplies and keep track of maintenance logs on vehicles, he said.

Eckhart said the stored data is backed up in five places across the United States.

The response from other departments in the county has been positive too, Anderson said.

“We have mutual aid meetings quarterly and we’ve been talking about it for over a year,” Anderson said.

Hull said the goal of the program is to help the county as a whole.

It will take a couple of months to integrate with dispatch, build a database for mapping and get each agency to supply their information, Hull said.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s very affordable,” Anderson said.

Hull and Anderson already met with the Saunders County Board of Supervisors’ finance committee and met with the board as a whole May 16 to discuss the $6,300 annual cost of the program. There would be no cost to the individual departments.

Supervisor Ed Rastovski said the program improves safety and response time, has county wide support and is economical in cost.

“It will help exceptionally get people to the scene ASAP,” Anderson said.

By Sam Farmer

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