New Omaha fire alert system could get firefighters to emergencies faster

Every one of the 24 Omaha fire stations is now operating with state of the art technology for emergency alarms.

“We’re always at the mercy of technology and technology is always moving forward. That’s why we designed the system to move with the flow,” said Fire Chief Dan Olsen.

Reporter: The equipment the city replaced was so old and outdated, companies stopped making spare parts. It was so bad, alarms at two stations broke altogether. My KETV investigation revealed some firefighters set up pop cans on a printer, activated when emergency calls came in. They listened for them to fall so they wouldn’t miss a call.

“From where we were six months or a year ago with the status and quality as it was, with the system reaching the end of its life, compared to where we are with this 21st century system, it’s just night and day,” Fire Union President Steve LeClair said.

Reporter: The goal is to get firefighters and medics out the doors in :60 seconds or less. The new fire alert system has a clock showing their progress, and it takes their health and safety into consideration. Every call has a computer-automated voice, known as “Samantha,” with heart-saver tones.

“Those are all designed to be built to lessen the impact of those firefighters and their stress levels,” Olsen said.

“This is going to have a dramatic impact on the health on those firefighters as they’re responding,” explained LeClair.

Reporter: This new alert system was the first project completed and paid for with that $45-million public safety bond passed by voters 2 years ago. The bond will also pay to upgrade and relocate the Douglas County 911 Center, as well as make improvements to the Douglas County jail.

 

This story by Michelle Bandur was published on 10/18/18 on ketv.com.

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