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Wake First-Responders Get High-Tech Upgrade

Posted April 16, 2007

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— Wake County emergency dispatchers handle 851,000 calls a year. In almost every case, they make split-second decisions on whom to send where.

Monday, the county was showing off a high-tech tool that will modernize the way emergency units are dispatched and perhaps save lives.

It’s obvious that the closest help is the best help to send to an emergency. To do that, however, you have to know who’s closest. That's what Wake County's new Automatic Vehicle Location system does.

Ambulances, sheriff's cruisers, even crime-scene investigators’ cars are now fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite transceivers.

With just a click of the computer mouse, 911 operators can pinpoint the location of emergency vehicles. The nearest unit—not the nearest fire or ambulance station—gets the call.

“The computer-aided dispatch system, which we have been using, doesn't know precisely which vehicle is the closest. When we're all installed and we flip the switch, we will know exactly where every vehicle is at all times,” said Skip A. Kirkwood, the county’s emergency medical services chief.

The system helps out on the 911 center’s end of things, and it also helps out in the field. A sheriff’s deputy, for example, can activate a screen and see exactly where he or she is.

“In the past, we've had cars assigned in different areas, and that's who you would call—the car working that area. Now, the dispatcher can look up on the screen and see who's closest to such and such an address and be able to dispatch that car much quicker,” Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

A $1 million federal grant helped pay for the system. Wake County says it has invested $20 million to upgrade emergency communications.

All 56 Wake County ambulances will be fully outfitted in two weeks. The 228 Sheriff's Department cruisers are in the system now.


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  • anonemoose Apr 17, 2007

    Jewel, take the transponder, modem and antennae for each unit, then the software and hardware for the comm center, times each console in the 911 center, and it really isn't that high. The laptop, modem, and software for a patrol car cost more than you imagine. The most commonly used software for police and sheriff reports and records cost 15K for the basic program with a license for the desktop and a few laptops.

  • Panther Apr 17, 2007

    Gee, 285 units at the cost of 1M comes out to $3521.00 each vehicle. A tad bit much don't you think

  • smegma Apr 17, 2007

    $1M sounds a tad steep

  • move_alng Apr 16, 2007

    this is a great addition to the emergency systems and i believe it will greatly assist safety at homes as well as speed to arrive at emergencies

  • anonemoose Apr 16, 2007

    Trooper, yep I do eat, and sometimes have to skip my meals to assist ya'll with stops and direct traffic for you guys so you can clear quicker. If I get there first, I'm going to be calling wreckers for you or doing a mark and move. I can't help if it a couple or three Deputies decided that they needed to enforce chapter 20 violations that don't exsist. You gotta smile, say oh well, and go on.

  • Reason Apr 16, 2007

    ohhh come one trooper....you know we in law enforcement aren't supposed to eat, communicate with family, go to the bathroom or violate any traffic laws while we are on duty. It may keep us from fixing the problems that the citizens of our country work diligently at creating...or we may not be able to respond to their house in a timely fashion in order to discipline their children...or...oh the list goes on.

  • blisstate Apr 16, 2007

    great idea, way to go.

  • kcfoxie Apr 16, 2007

    Its about time this was put into place.

  • Lovinlif Apr 16, 2007

    LOL psycho!

  • anonemoose Apr 16, 2007

    "Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the tracking system will enhance the safety of first responders and citizens".

    And let us know when our Deputies are at an Applebees........