Ind. Dispatchers Onboard for 911 Software Changes
Jasper and Dubois County emergency dispatchers are getting used to a new computer-aided dispatch system that streamlines 911 procedures and will offer new ways to connect with officers in the field.
The software replaces the dispatch system that was in place for about 20 years. The dispatch centers installed the new software and went live in September.
Dubois County is the first county in Indiana to install this new program, designed by InterAct Public Safety of Winston-Salem, N.C., said Janice Love, director of the Dubois County 911 Communications Center. The program, including dispatcher training and other expenses, was funded by a $139,665 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
In the old system, dispatchers were used to taking handwritten notes, which they would enter into the computer when they had a free moment, Love said. In the new system, every 911 call automatically starts a new computer file, with some information, such as the time and call location, already filled in. The dispatcher determines the type of call -- whether it's a request for an ambulance, an arrest in progress or some other type of emergency -- and assigns an on-duty officer from a list on the left-hand side of the screen. Once an officer is assigned, the call is moved to another list, and remains there until the incident has been resolved.
Dispatcher Jason Blair of Huntingburg said he was ready for the updates.
"It makes more sense to have everything in order," Blair said.
One of the features of the new system is that Jasper and Dubois County dispatchers can access each other's calls in progress. Many other features have yet to be implemented.
"We're at the tip of the iceberg as far as what the system can do," said Nathan Schmitt, assistant chief of the Jasper Police Department.
Within the next couple months, the program will be configured to allow dispatchers to send 911 information to the computers in officers' cars. Officers of every law enforcement agency in the county also will be able to run their own checks using the databases of the state police, FBI and Bureau of Motor Vehicles rather than requesting those checks from the dispatch centers. The program will facilitate a new level of connectivity for local law enforcement.
"It's really a huge undertaking, getting everything to work together," Schmitt said.
Because of the importance of accurately responding to 911 calls, the upgrading process must be taken in stages, Love said.
"There is a lot to learn," she said.
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