Ariz. Agency Improves Response with FirstWatch

Ariz. Agency Improves Response with FirstWatch

Press Release Jul 18, 2012

July 17, 2012

ENCINITAS, CA—Emergency response in Pima County, AZ, improved significantly since the Northwest Fire Rescue District deployed FirstWatch Real-Time Situational Awareness System, which allows for close monitoring of each step in 9-1-1 call processing and fire/EMS response.

A few years ago, Northwest Fire Rescue District, which serves a population of about 110,000 in Marana, AZ, and in unincorporated areas outside of Tucson, was seeking reaccreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. To be accredited, fire and EMS agencies have to meet rigorous standards in multiple areas of performance.

The fire rescue district faced several hurdles: 9-1-1 call processing times were not meeting national standards. In addition, fire district officials saw room for improvement in firefighter response, including how fast they were getting geared up and leaving the station and how quickly they were initiating treatment on scene, especially in life and death situations such as cardiac arrest.

To address those issues, the fire district applied for and received a $50,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (FIRE Act) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to deploy FirstWatch, an Internet-based real-time data monitoring and surveillance system that could be integrated with the district’s Fire Records System. (The grant covered 80% of the cost; the district covered 20%.)

Phase one of Northwest Fire’s operations quality improvement initiative began in September 2011. According to national standards, ambulances should be dispatched within 60 seconds of a call coming in to a 9-1-1 communications center, in 90% of cases. However, the emergency dispatch center the district contracts with was meeting that standard only 17% of the time.

Using FirstWatch, Northwest Fire District officials began monitoring each call in near real-time to determine precisely how long it took to dispatch a fire truck, and acted quickly when calls took too long. The result: dispatchers are now meeting the standard more than 50% of the time, and trending upward. “We needed something that was in real-time, so we could react to trends and make decisions when it would make a difference,” says Northwest Fire Rescue District Communications Coordinator Jim Long. “FirstWatch helped us tremendously, and was also instrumental in helping us get reaccredited in January. It’s a good watchdog that shows us at any given moment exactly what's happening in the communications center and to what extent we’re making a difference in improving patient outcomes,” Long says.

Phase two of the quality improvement initiative involved using FirstWatch to closely monitor all aspects of firefighters’ performance. That included measuring how long it took them to leave the station after being dispatched to an emergency; how long it took to arrive on scene; and how long it took to get the fire truck back into service so that it was ready to answer another call, a sign of operational efficiency.

Phase three, which is ongoing, involves using FirstWatch to mine electronic patient care reports, seeking out areas for improvement. One such measurement is how long it takes firefighters to use a 12-lead EKG, which diagnoses STEMI, the most serious type of heart attack. Diagnosing STEMI before the patient arrives at the hospital enables hospital staff to be ready to deliver prompt treatment upon arrival. Other measurements include whether a bystander started CPR in cases of cardiac arrest, whether an automated external defibrillator (AED) was used, and whether firefighters started hypothermia in the field, believed to be key contributors to whether or not patients survive.

“The implementation of the FirstWatch system has allowed those who take the emergency call for help and those who respond to the incident the power to visualize the impacts that time has on the responses, when measured to performance standards,” says Northwest Fire Rescue District Chief Jeff Piechura. “This empowerment through the use of information has reduced call processing and turnout times, which has resulted in shortening the time between the initial call for help, and the responders arriving at the front door to provide it.”

Continue Reading

Todd Stout, FirstWatch founder and president, says he looks forward to continuing to work closely with Northwest Fire Rescue District to develop solutions to meet response time and performance goals. “We are proud to welcome Northwest Fire Rescue District as our first customer in Arizona,” Stout says.

About FirstWatch
FirstWatch, an Encinitas, CA-based company, began monitoring 9-1-1 data in Kansas City, MO, in 1999. Since then, FirstWatch has grown into a global leader in real-time public safety data analysis, one that’s utilized by police, fire, EMS and public health organizations in 35 states and provinces across the United States and Canada.

The military-grade mountable tablet is purpose-built for first responders with a unique, foldable keyboard cradle and dual pass-through antenna.
UC Berkeley's Seismology Lab team developed the app to alert users of impending earthquakes so they have more time to prepare for safety.
The app will help teachers and administrators easily communicate during crises and are also being trained by law enforcement on how to act in an active shooter event.
The company launched a new series of demo webinars and released a comparison checklist resource to assist fire departments and EMS agencies in their search for a better records management system.
Leading EMS, Fire, Software & Data Company Named to Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America List for Fifth Year Running
Specifically created for the public safety sector, Aladtec's software helps EMS agencies manage complex shifts for their 24/7 coverage needs.  
Dictum Health, Inc introduces a new telehealth product line based on its patient-centric Virtual Exam Room (VER) technology, providing better patient care whether it be basic home visits or disaster scenarios.
Five hospitals — two in California, two in Arkansas, one in Colorado — gain access to EMS data in real-time, even prior to patient arrival, using Electronic Health Record-consumable formats.
The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) will track real-time overdose surveillance data so immediate responses can be activated when overdoses spike in frequency.
Officials are urging companies like Apple to activate the FM chips installed in cell phones so emergency alerts can guide residents when cell towers are damaged by major disasters.
DMI announces the launch of EndZone, a cloud-based platform for mobile-centric situational awareness, delivering increased responsiveness and efficiency in emergency situations.
First responders are encouraged to link the website to their pages, as the service allows users to reconnect with loved ones in the aftermath of a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Maria.
Residents who register with the program provide important details about health conditions and even bedroom locations so rescue workers spend less time searching for victims.
Inc. magazine ranked GD 2503 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.
Developed with the help of paramedics, bystanders who witness a heart attack or cardiac arrest can use the app to send an SOS to nearby CPR-trained people, check if someone has called the emergency number 119, and alerts them of nearby AEDs.