It’s virtually impossible to overstate how precious time can be in an emergency situation, especially the time between when an emergency is called in and when public safety workers arrive. Be it a fire, a search and rescue mission or a hunt for a fugitive, every second is precious.

But time isn’t the only thing that can change the outcome of an emergency. Data is important, too. Every public safety worker needs as much information as a 911 dispatcher can give them about an emergency situation.

That data can be culled  from many different sources by PSAP workers. There’s geographic information systems, wireless communications, global positioning systems, and a full range of public safety software solutions, among others. These can be used in many ways.

Here are just a few of the ways that better call data can improve the outcome of any emergency.

Reducing the potential for emergency vehicle crashes

According to a 2015 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the 20 years between 1994 and 2014, there were an average of 4,500 ambulance crashes per year across the United States.

Many of them were due to traffic congestion, an unavoidable part of driving on city roads or highways. However, for public safety workers and the PSAP personnel supporting them, this problem doesn’t have to be unavoidable. A dispatcher can guide an ambulance driver through or around areas of heavy traffic if they have accurate traffic data compiled through GPS.

The best thing for any emergency victim is if the people dispatched to help them get there quickly and safely. Knowing the best, safest route to an emergency is one big way to make sure both of those things happen.

Better response time

A couple of years ago in Jersey City, NJ, a concentrated effort was made to bring better data analytics to the city’s emergency dispatch call centers.

After doing so, the average emergency response time in the city dropped from almost nine minutes to under six. Imagine how many lives that might have saved? A similar experiment was done shortly afterwards in San Francisco with similar results.

It’s a common-sense equation: The more data a PSAP can analyze and disseminate to emergency service providers, the more quickly and efficiently they can do their jobs, and thus lives are saved.

Cost reduction

Yes, there might be a significant expense upfront to better outfit PSAPs to analyze data, but the savings in the long run, both in human and financial terms, are too hard to ignore. Think about the man-hours that could be saved if the police department, fire department, and EMS workers were able to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently.

Think of those 4,500 ambulance crashes, and the amount of repairs that had to be done – not to mention hospitalization for the EMS workers. What if better data could help a city, county or township avoid a large portion of that cost?

Better knowledge that can save lives

This is perhaps the most important use of data in an emergency situation: Sending public safety workers into a potentially dangerous scenario with as much information as possible.

In a natural disaster, those workers should have as much information as possible about the weather conditions still in a given area.

In a fugitive hunt, they should have as precise a description as possible of the criminal and what vehicle he or she might be driving. They should know as specifically as possible where he or she might be headed, or what general direction they might be going in.

This is vital information not just for the safety of the public safety workers who are putting their lives on the line, but for that of every person between them and the disaster or emergency, as well.
To learn more about how technology can save lives, read our post “How Technology is Keeping Public Safety Workers and Citizens Safe.”

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