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Metro Newsroom

New Streamlined System Improves Emergency Response

Monday June 26, 2006

Mayor Unveils MetroSafe Phase II’s Computer-Aided Dispatch

MetroSafeMayor Jerry Abramson today unveiled Phase II of MetroSafe, a streamlined computer-dispatch system designed to improve emergency response and save lives.

“With this investment, we’re putting the ‘one’ in 911,” Abramson said. “For the first time, your emergency call comes into one place, you deal with one call-taker and your information is relayed thorough one computer system that all our emergency dispatchers can use to help you.”

“It’s a streamlined, team-oriented approach to emergency communications that will speed our response and save more lives,” he said.

MetroSafe officials have been testing and making adjustments to the computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD, for the past two weeks.

The new CAD completes MetroSafe’s second phase. The first phase was creating a single communications center at 768 Barret Ave., bringing together 911 call takers and police, fire and EMS dispatchers that previously operated from four different locations with four different systems.

The single computer-dispatch system in Phase II replaces three separate systems that were used by the former city and county governments. Those systems weren’t compatible with each other, so police, fire, and EMS dispatchers had to shout across the room to share information.

With the CAD, all Louisville Metro 911 call takers and emergency dispatchers, for the first time, work on a unified computer system that allows each to “see” the responding and available police, fire and EMS units simultaneously and manage the emergency response accordingly.

MetroSafe Phase II also streamlines the process required to dispatch responders to emergencies. Previously, based on where you were in Louisville Metro, 911 call takers would transfer callers to a second person to obtain information about their service request, such as medical emergencies or fire department responses. Now, all call takers are trained in emergency-medical protocols so that virtually all callers to 911 will speak with only one person.

“Eliminating that additional step will save critical seconds. In a business where seconds count, we count seconds,” said Doug Hamilton, MetroSafe director.

Hamilton said the roughly $7 million cost of implementing the CAD includes the purchase and installation of hardware and software, and training employees. The project was funded mostly from a federal Urban Area Security Initiative grant and a Kentucky Department of Homeland Security grant.

The third phase of MetroSafe will be the state-of-the-art communications center and radio-transmission system housed at the site of the former Federal Reserve Building downtown. When complete, all Louisville Metro emergency agencies will operate on a unified radio network with new radios and a mobile-data network for their vehicles. The current Barret Avenue facility will become the backup location to provide a redundant system.

“In public safety, we look for continuous improvement – and with MetroSafe, we have taken a methodical and step-by-step approach to building an emergency-communications system we believe will be a model for many cities,” Abramson said.

The mayor’s budget approved last week by Metro Council includes $12.4 million for renovation of the Federal Reserve Building and to support the build-out of the radio network. In addition, Louisville was awarded $8.52 million in federal funding last month and has applied to Kentucky Homeland Security for additional funding. The city soon will issue a request for proposals for companies to build the radio system.