Dane County is in the process of changing its emergency response protocol following a series of concerns raised over the current dispatch methods.
The new protocol will be a pre-alert pilot process that immediately informs agencies of a life-threatening situation, said Dane County Chief of Staff Josh Wescott. The protocol sends an instant notification to a selected agency once the location of the incident is determined for any fire, car accident and immediate life-threatening call.
“We are going to try this pre-alert process for the city of Madison and other agencies that request it and see if it improves the time it takes for vehicles to get out the door,” Wescott said. “The county 911 center has certainly been responsive to the questions that have been raised and we are giving this a try to see if it addresses what we have heard.”
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said Dane County officials have long been concerned about dispatch response times. He added that officials sent a letter of concern to county executives from the Dane County Fire Chiefs Association just two days ago.
Verveer said there have been specific incidents over the past few months in which officials thought the length of dispatch times could have made a difference in the outcome of some emergency calls.
He said despite acknowledging that some aspects of the system have improved, the county still appears to have a long way to go in order to fully solve the emergency response time problems.
“The issues from the 911 center are a crisis that goes throughout the county and we are all collectively very concerned about the dispatch response times for the calls,” Verveer said.
Upon hearing the new proposed protocol, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said he was excited about pre-alerts idea. As a recent witness of 911 dispatch operations, Resnick said he hopes this pilot will lead to the expansion of similar systems across other agencies.
Getting dressed to fight a fire can take up to a minute and 30 seconds, Resnick said. He said giving firefighters a warning before they are dispatched could save them 30 to 90 seconds in response time, which could make a significant difference in controlling the fire.
Wescott said the protocol change will start with a two-month trial throughout Dane County, with dispatcher training beginning the week of March 24 and full implantation by March 31.