New state funded EMS Comms system will reduce response time and save lives
The Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD) on Wednesday (Jan. 31, 2024) announced that a new CAD-to-CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) technology that will significantly reduce time it takes for firefighters and paramedics in 40 south suburban communities to respond to emergencies.
OFPD Fire Chief Michael Schofield credited the support of Senator Michael Hastings who secured the $600,000 in state funds for the regional CAD-to-CAD system and he said that the most important result will be that once operational, reducing response time will save lives.
Currently, fire districts and departments must communicate by telephone when identifying additional emergency response support.
Schofield and Hastings were joined at a press conference hosted in Hazelcrest Fire Department by mayors and fire officials from a dozen communities in announcing the state grant funded project which is operational in only one region around Washington D.C.
“A couple years ago I was looking at how to improve our response time when we deal with other agencies and other dispatch centers. And the delays were minutes. So, if we needed a fire engine from another agency, we had to make a phone call. This is ridiculous. With today’s technology we are wasting time calling other dispatch centers who in turn need to find out which units are available,” Schofield said.
“I reached out to Senator Hastings and said we need to find funding to get this CAD-to-CAD system because it will save lives. As a matter of fact, it will change the Illinois Fire service forever, moving us ahead in saving lives.”
Schofield said the South Suburbs have more ambulance calls than fire calls.
“When someone is not breathing, seconds count. And the delays we were all doing in calling other agencies taking three to five to seven minutes to find another ambulance was ridiculous. The Senator said he would find the funding and make this happen and save lives.” Schofield said.
Hastings said the three-year project implementation is long overdue and uses technology to efficiently coordinate fire department resources to get equipment and personnel to emergency situations in the fastest time possible.
“For the first time in the history of the fire service, we are going to implement a new program called CAD-to-CAD which allows every fire agency within the MABUS organization in the SW suburbs to communicate with each other and have real time information as to where all of our fire assets are,” Hastings said.
“Every fire department in the SW suburbs if you have a fire generally requires another fire department to come help assist. The problem is a lot of our fire organizations don’t have the capabilities to see in real time where all the fire assets are in the SW suburbs. This technology is going to be a life changing and a life savings program. This program will reduce response time to fires in the South suburbs. I know the chiefs will tell you that every minute counts. If you can save one minute, you can save one life.”
OFPD Board President John Brudnak said that the Fire District already ranks as having one of the highest save rates in the Midwest.
“This new system is going to help save more lives. We’re very proud of the fast response the OFPD has, one of the highest Cardiac arrest save rates in the Midwest,” Brudnak said.
“Once the system is fully operational, we are going to help spread that live-saving time reduction record not only in the Orland Fire District but to 40 other communities. This is thanks in a large part of officials like Senator Hastings working closely with Chief Schofield to secure the state grant funds we needed to make this life saving technology happen for our residents in this region. Seconds do save lives. This new system will reduce response time by minutes, in many cases, and the number of lives that can be saved in emergency situations will be significant.”
Gina Cortez, director of Dispatch Operations for the OFPD, said that once implemented, the new CAD-to-CAD system called “CentralSquare Unify” “can save two minutes on average.” That is a significant amount of time, Cortez said, in terms of life savings response time.
CentralSquare Unify is a data exchange that facilitates real-time communications between multiple fire departments, multiple emergency communications centers, and multiple CAD systems which convey information simultaneously and quickly.
Among those attending the press conference were Hazelcrest Mayor Vernard Alsberry Jr., Hazel Crest Fire Chief Tyrone Jarrett, Markham Mayor Roger A. Agpawa, Country CLub Hills Mayor James W. Ford, Orland Hills Village Administrator Brian O’Neill, and Homewood Deputy Fire Chief Steve DeJong.
“Time saves lives. And this CAD system is going to make sure we have time to save lives and respond to fires. And the senator with his great vision and the vision of our fire departments, the technology that will not only change the southland but change the fire departments response to save more lives,” Alsberry said.
Fire Chief Jarrett added, “This is really a game changer as time is of the essence in saving lives.”
Other communities represented in the project include Blue Island, Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Garden Homes, Merrionette Park, Oak Forest, Palos Fire Protection District, Park Forest, Richton Park, Riverdale, South Holland, Thornton and Tinley Park.
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