Automated System Allows Faster Emergency Response

October 22, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:45pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Emergency vehicles in Craighead County will soon be able to be located automatically. The pieces that make up an Automated Vehicle Locator system are in place.

Bob Andrews, E-911 Communications Center Director, said "If someone calls up and they've got someone having a heart attack at their residence, we can look up there and can send them the closest ambulance."

Currently, emergency calls are rotated between ambulance services. Soon satellite tracking and cellular technology along with a computer software will allow for faster responses.

"We're trying it out now, working the new off of it, so we'll have the questions to know how to use it, and then when we have our training, it'll just make it even better," added Andrews.

Craighead County and Jonesboro City leaders purchased the AVL system and transmitters for police cars. Ambulance companies had to pay for their own equipment.

Kurt Beeson, Emerson Ambulance Assistant Manager, explained, "We finished up our installation about a month ago."

Kurt Beeson said it's user friendly for ambulance workers. A toggle switch on the console indicates if the unit is available. If it's switched to a green light, it's in service. If the switch has been flipped to show a red light, it's out of service.

"Usually what I've told a lot of the guys is that if they go to the hospital and they take their patient in, when they come back out and re-stock their truck, go ahead and flip it back over to the green," added Beeson.

Software problems still have to be fixed before it's ready to go. One of the final steps is for the AVL system to be synched up with the city's Computer Aided Dispatch system; something that should be completed around November first.

"and the CAD is actually the meat and potatoes of the AVL system," said Andrews. "When they're together, it's a tremendous system and it will benefit the citizens, ah get the reports done quickly, without the officers having to go back and forth between the police department to do their reports, they can do everything in car now."

"It's gonna take learning on everyone's side, you know," added Beeson. "Our people are going to have to learn to switch yourself in-service, out of service. Dispatch is going to have to get used to it. If their computer programming works right, their CAD systems, it should go over very well."

The total cost of the system was $500,000. The price tag to outfit each ambulance was $1,500. Fire Department vehicles will be added to the system next year.