By William Carpenter, Battalion Chief, Frisco, Tx Fire Department
It is pretty evident that the most basic fundamental act we do as emergency responders are responding to emergencies. While we cannot control the type of emergency our firefighting and EMS personnel are dispatched to, we can control the method utilized to alert them. One advanced solution is the Phoenix G2 Station Alerting System by US Digital Designs.
Before Implementing the Phoenix G2 System
Before moving to the fully automated G2 system, the Frisco, Texas Fire Department utilized manual station notification. Manual station notification requires an emergency operator to alert each firehouse of an incoming call for service. During busier times when multiple emergencies were called into the communications center, dispatchers notified individual stations, performed tasks one at a time, and one after the other. With the emphasis on response times, this put the next call for service immediately behind the clock. Our emergency operators are some of the best in the business, but we always strive to be better by shaving as many seconds as possible on those response times. The strengths of the G2 system are aimed directly at this issue.
Automated Voice Notifications
The first and most notable enhancement is the time differential we found between call time received and the notification (dispatching) to our fire stations. Instead of waiting for a human voice to alert our field units, our response personnel now receive an automated voice notification. No longer are we subject to increases in speed or inflection of voice when trying to decipher a message, providing consistency to response personnel and reducing errors. This allows our dispatchers to continue taking call information and providing direction to the reporting party. The G2 alerting system initiates our calls for service simultaneously, eliminating unnecessary wait time in notifying stations one after another. Now that our fire stations are alerted through network (IT) channels versus the radio (at least inside the fire station), calls for service are no longer “stacked.”
Health and Wellness Benefits
The G2 alerting system notifies stations by multiple methods when calls are received. HDTV monitors in day rooms and kitchens, LED message boards strategically located in apparatus bays and throughout the stations, inform responders of call details before climbing onto their rig. The G2 system offers the Room Remote 2 for firefighters of multi-company houses to select what apparatus to staff for their shift. The remotes allow members to sleep undisturbed while another station unit is dispatched for a service call. The necessary personnel is alerted while the others continue sleeping; remaining rested and prepared for the next emergency. Before the G2 system was in place, the entire station was alerted by loud tones and bright white lights. Now we hear ramping tones (tones that begin soft and slowly escalate in volume) and see softer red LED lights lessening the cardiac stress of waking personnel. Heart-healthy firefighters are a fire service goal; any opportunity to reduce stress on the staff is of great value in an alerting system.
Mobile Device Application
One of the more widely appreciated features of the Phoenix G2 Station Alerting System is the mobile device application for IOS and Android platforms. Our driver/operators (as well as other firefighters and officers) now have incident information pushed to their cell phones providing directions and call location before jumping into their rigs. We frequently find that our smart devices alert us to calls for service a good second or so before our station tones become active. By simply touching a popup banner on their mobile device screen while waiting on their crew members to bunk out, our driver/operators can evaluate and preplan their route of travel allowing their officer more time to strategize on-scene tactics without having to provide constant turn by turn directions. Personnel from other stations are situationally aware of emergencies mitigated throughout the city. Another benefit is that our citizen volunteers that help with setting up rehab at long-term incidents can use the G2 application to alert them of certain call types.
Reduce Response Times for Growing Cities
Cities in the fast-growing North Texas area have dynamic communities that are building without any indication of slowing down. Our personnel is extremely flexible when it comes to staffing. Staff members rotate through districts when new stations are built. Fire departments (both new and established) should strongly consider installing new technology to support staff, reduce response times, improve situational awareness, and overcome rapidly changing environments. The Phoenix G2 Station Alerting System by US Digital Designs is an example of the technical support we can provide service members to further enhance emergency response.