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Remote Print Manager Elite Helps Fire Department Dispatch, Responders, and Citizens

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The Farmington Fire Department in New Mexico has 95 full time (career) uniformed firefighters throughout a network of six fire stations. They answer calls for services of all types which include fire, EMS, hazmat, rescues and public service, and frequently receive calls from 9-1-1 centers.

The Challenge

Seconds matter when a call is made to a 9-1-1 dispatch center.  The dispatcher has mere moments to transcribe and communicate critical information to emergency personnel. Accurately relaying this information can be a matter of life or death for the 9-1-1 caller and firefighters. Historically, Farmington’s firefighters were limited to 2-way radios for verbal communication between each other and their command centers. Amidst the noise and distractions of an emergency, too many potentially dangerous miscommunications threatened to delay response time or send firefighters into dangerous situations such as a crime scene or chemical hazard.

Randy Wakeland (retired), formerly the Technology Coordinator for the Farmington Fire Department, sought to improve response time and improve safety for firefighters. “There was a communications barrier between dispatch and trucks. I needed to relay critical information on a printer at the 9-1-1 center directly to the firefighters on the trucks. The first vendor I approached did not have the capability and wanted $10,000 just to start a feasibility study. I knew there had to be a better solution,” he said.

 

Our Solution

The RPM Elite print server software, from Brooks Internet Software, was utilized to relay information on the 9-1-1 printer to the firefighter’s cell phones. Initially, only the Farmington Fire Department utilized the technology. But the ability to send a print job from the 9-1-1 dispatch directly to the first responders proved so valuable that all of the public service agencies in Farmington were eventually connected. “I found RPM from Brooks Internet Software. I was able to take the print job from the 9-1-1 dispatch center, then, using the RPM technology, I can redirect the information to each firefighter’s cell phone via a text message and/or email,” said Wakeland.

 

The Impact

Four critical benefits of the RPM print server software have been identified. First, the technology was adopted throughout approximately 14 county fire departments and three municipal fire departments for the cities of Aztec and Bloomfield, New Mexico. In addition, the ambulance service, hospital helicopter, and approximately 500 total emergency responders have been connected to receive 9-11- text and email alerts. “The real benefit is in saving lives and property. The RPM technology helps improve public safety, and the firefighters are safer too. This is really where the benefit has been…RPM is a top notch service. I have had no issues with it. It runs flawlessly,” Wakeland said.

Second, firefighters no longer have to rely solely on verbal communication through 2-way radios. The challenge of accurately relaying and hearing critical information during highly stressful and chaotic emergency situations was resolved. Firefighters and first responders now have an accurately typed, detailed document in the form of a text message which allows them to better prepare for potentially dangerous situations. Wakeland observed “RPM really, dramatically improved the communication in our fire departments. Firefighters no longer need to get out a note pad and write all the information down. Now we have the critical information from the 9-1-1 dispatcher right there in our hand. We have information about dangers, such as chemical hazards or situations involving guns or knives, etc.”

Third, improved communication equated to better coordinated responses between fire, EMS, and volunteer first responders. “We connected all of our fire departments. Everyone knows what stations are going out to a call, when, and why, because they get the 9-1-1 text message on their phones. They know in real-time which engines are in route or busy. This helps redirect responders if there are two calls in one area. In addition, the volunteers use the text for 2-way communication among themselves to coordinate responses to emergencies,” Wakeland said.

Finally, the print-to-text capability serves as a secondary failsafe in case primary alerting systems fail. Wakeland said “It provides a secondary means of alerting. Even if there is a failure in the alerting system, we still get the information on our phones. It has been very reliable to have on our phones. Once I did this for the fire department everyone started to want it. I started putting all of the county fire departments on it.”

Impact Summary

  • Lives and property saved
  • Improved communication
  • Improved Coordination (Fire, EMS, and Volunteers)
  • A backup, in case primary alerting systems fail

Mark Mordecki has been a firefighter for the Farmington, NM, Fire Department for five years, and oversees the management of the 9-1-1 call transcript system using RPM Elite from Brooks Internet Software.

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