911 Center protocols to be reviewed - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

911 Center protocols to be reviewed

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MADISON (WKOW) -- An oversight committee will begin to review the protocols used in handling emergency calls to Dane County's 911 communications center, and County Executive Joe Parisi says participation by all stakeholders is critical to improving the system.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has criticized the 911 Center's performance, stating since a computer-aided dispatch system was installed in April 2013, handling  certain calls has been on-average three times slower than nationally-established emergency standards. Soglin has also cited nearly three dozen calls during that time with emergency responders being sent to wrong locations, dispatch of personnel being seriously delayed, or incomplete information given to responders.

Parisi conceded transition to the new computer system has had glitches, but said the majority of the more than 400,000 calls handled annually by the center are smoothly taken, with dispatch taking place if warranted.

Parisi countered concerns over lengthy call-taking time by citing new data showing an average of forty seven seconds from call answering to dispatch for a fire emergency, in cases where emergency location, and caller identity are known.

Parisi said eighty percent of emergency calls are being placed from cell phones, and GPS technology used to pinpoint caller location when the caller is unsure of it is challenging, because the technology is unable to display a specific location.

Parisi chided members of the center's governing board, the 911 Center Board, for missing past meetings and causing meetings to be canceled for lack of a quorum. Parisi called on board members, which include representatives from different jurisdictions receiving service from the 911 Center, to redouble efforts to attend meetings.

Parisi said the oversight committee will also assess the results of a coming, pilot project of what's called "pre-alerting," The project will involve emergency responders being dispatched before a call-taker has moved through all questions of a call-taking protocol, if factors such as the caller's identity and the nature of the emergency have been established.

Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis told 27 News he's encouraged by the pre-alerting pilot project. But Davis reinforced fire department data showing lengthy call answering-to-dispatch time remains an issue, even with Parisi's release of response time data of certain calls.

Fire department data from January shows a more than two minute call-to-dispatch average time for the most serious fire emergencies; a more than three-minute time, for situations classified as emergency.

Parisi said there was no target date for achieving the national emergency group's response standards cited by Soglin. Soglin was unavailable for comment.

Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney praised 911 Center performance, citing his recent emergency call to alert authorities of someone's fainting. Mahoney said the call-taker handled his call professionally and swiftly and emergency responders arrived within minutes. Mahoney also said there's been no significant delays for his responding deputies as the result of calls and dispatches from the center, since the April installation of the new computer system.
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