New 911 system saving time and lives in West Haven

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WEST HAVEN – A state-of-the-art computer-aided 911 communications system has some dispatchers in the city of West Haven and the University of New Haven sweating on the job.

The most important difference between the new communication system and the previous one is that as the dispatcher is inputting the information, EMS, police and fire are being alerted live, simultaneously.

“They will have it within one minute,” said Abraham Colon, director of the West Haven 911 Communications Center. “It will definitely expedite the response and increase the viability rate of those people.”

The bottom line: this upgrade, with a price tag of nearly $4 million, will save time and lives.

“We're seeing sub-three-minute complete dispatches to on-scene, which is kind of unheard of,” said Tim Murray, of East Haven based NexGen Public Safety Solutions, which designed this system and one for the Connecticut State Police.

This system also now notifies volunteer firefighters by smartphone, instead of pager.

“They'll be able to see whether they're going to the firehouse, to pick up a fire engine or an apparatus or they're going right to the scene,” said Scott Schwartz, the city’s emergency management director.

One critical component of the new system: data sharing between emergency responders.

“If there is some type of problem on the scene, they will be able to put it in there,” said Schwartz. “The dispatchers will be able to put it in and will actually be able to update the units as they are going there to keep them safe.”

With the average shift lasting eight hours, it’s a long time to be sitting down. So, to get the blood flowing, dispatchers have the option of riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill while working at their console.