New software means shorter wait times for emergency calls

New software means shorter wait times for emergency calls

  • Rand Gowan, Star Local Media contributor
Frisco Police Department

Frisco’s emergency service dispatchers are using a new software system that is expected to reduce wait times for high priority incidents by 15-30 percent, Chief of Police John Bruce told the City Council Jan. 2.

“In working together, we have implemented a system that will provide a tremendous safety benefit to the citizens of Frisco,”  Bruce said in a corresponding memo.

Before the new software, the city was split into separate districts, and emergency responders were assigned to a district. Calls were assigned based on districts, not a responder’s distance to the call, which resulted in unnecessary delays.

The new system, referred to as “closest to” dispatching, “automatically chooses and deploys the best resources available for high-priority incidents,” according to the memo.

It considers a variety of factors including incident type, location, manpower qualifications and weather conditions before choosing which emergency response unit to deploy.

Traditionally, Frisco has deployed an ambulance and fire engine to all calls, Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland told the council at the same meeting.  Now, low priority calls are assigned an ambulance from their district only, unless that ambulance is more than five minutes away.  In that case, the closest unit, ambulance or engine, is deployed regardless of district.

“Since we’ve implemented this in the middle of November there have been 102 instances where we were able to send the [ambulance] only,” Piland said. “That’s 102 times an [engine] didn’t have to respond to a call, reducing wear and tear on the equipment and ensuring it is available for the next call.”

The computer software inside of Frisco’s police cars, firetrucks and ambulances has also been upgraded. Emergency responders can see real-time locations of other responders, critical information about the call, and the shortest route there.  Public works and other city personnel are able to update the map software to include barriers and construction, ensuring response units are always able to take the fastest route to their call.

The new software was paid for by a $330,000 grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and was created by Integrated Computer Systems in McKinney, according to a press release posted on the city’s website.