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SNOPAC 9-1-1 Comms Center Deploys FirstWatch Situational Awareness Monitoring System

Date: 2014-02-13
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To ensure that police, fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County have their fingers on the pulse of the community, the SNOPAC 9-1-1 has deployed FirstWatch to monitor in real-time the roughly 1,500 calls they dispatch each day (more than 600,000 calls in 2013). 

SNOPAC serves thirty-seven police and fire agencies in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, WA. “As one of the largest 9-1-1 Centers in the State of Washington, we need a meaningful way to wade through our data so that we can focus our resources where necessary - FirstWatch helps us do that,” says Kurt Mills, SNOPAC Executive Director. 

SNOPAC is using the FirstWatch system to analyze their 9-1-1 data by scanning for emerging crime patterns like Arson, Burglary, Sex Crimes, Vehicle Theft, or Malicious Crimes; by watching for patterns related to public health designed to identify things like influenza outbreaks or a biological attack; by notifying command staff of major incidents as they occur like a bank robbery or major fire; and to focus on performance trends like response times. 

Specifically, officials from police, fire, and EMS have used FirstWatch to set up "triggers" to alert them of potential threats within defined "geofences" throughout the Snohomish County area. By integrating with the 9-1-1 system, FirstWatch enables public safety teams to respond quickly and more effectively. 

SNOPAC Operations Coordinator Crystal Ayco says, “The FirstWatch system is acting as a public-safety watch-dog scanning our information 24-7-365 looking for things like crime patterns and public health risks as well as monitoring our operational performance – all in real-time.” 

On January 21th, one of SNOPAC’s FirstWatch triggers alerted public safety and health officials as to a spike in influenza-like illness. “We had only setup the trigger about a month earlier so we were pretty impressed to see the system picking up on that trend,” said Mills. 

Snohomish County is a participant in the FirstWatch Regional Influenza Network (RIN), which automatically monitors the live data in their 9-1-1 (EMS, Fire and Police) computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems, watching for increases in complaints or symptoms that are consistent with the flu. “Early alerts about health conditions affecting many people in a short time could improve public health’s ability to inform and advise the public,” says Gary Goulbaum, Health Officer and Director for the Snohomish Health District.

Interesting to note: 9-1-1 calls in Snohomish County dropped during Sunday’s Super Bowl, according to 9-1-1 call data found in their FirstWatch Real-Time Situational Awareness system. The moment the game ended, the SNOPAC dispatch center saw a steep increase in 9-1-1 calls, particularly for noise complaints and fireworks.  “During the game, 9-1-1 calls dropped by 41 percent compared to the same time during other winter Sundays”, said Mills. “It hit us immediately when the game was done. Even before the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy, we saw the uptick in our FirstWatch system as it was happening.” 

SNOPAC becomes the sixth agency in the state of Washington to deploy the FirstWatch system joining the Seattle Fire Department, Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA), Eastside Fire and Rescue, AMR-Seattle and Rural/Metro Pacific Northwest. 

“The economic downturn hit our region pretty hard and while budget cuts are pretty common, the expectation of the public to receive effective and efficient emergency services is higher than ever. FirstWatch helps alert us to issues before they are overblown as well as maintaining situational awareness of what’s happening in our county,” Mills said. 

For more information on FirstWatch, see:

For more information on SNOPAC 9-1-1, see:

- Corporate News/ (via FirstWatch, 2/7/13)




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