Emergency response to improve with new technology

| 26/08/2009

(CNS): Cayman’s emergency services vehicle system has arrived in the 21st Century with the installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in the first responder units, allowing operators to keep track of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars to help them direct response to 911 calls more efficiently. The system has been widely welcome among all the emergency service providers.

It is currently installed in 42 vehicles on Grand Cayman, with preparations underway for eight more. The new fleet-management tool, already common in most modern emergency service systems, was introduced on Monday, 17 August.

“The Global Positioning System (GPS)  technology installed in the first responder units now allow 911 operators to dispatch officers and medics with the benefit of knowing where they are prior to dispatch, saving valuable seconds in an emergency,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Secretary Eric Bush.

He said that unit performance is being monitored and evaluated, with positive results thus far.  “In an emergency, time is of the essence. A faster response can mean the difference between life and death. Having this technology is significant because it will allow the police and fire departments to bring the situation under control quicker; and the ambulance to response faster, thereby giving patients a better chance – which in some cases can save lives.” he added.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs contracted local company Sat-Trak to provide the equipment and one year’s worth of data. The contract can be extended thereafter.  While Sat-Trak offers technical support, the system is managed by government employees.

The decision to utilise this technology follows last year’s evaluation of electronic tracking devices in local vehicles. The system uses a high-tech combination of GPS, satellite map overlays, the tracking of vehicle movements and the transmission of key information every 30 seconds or every 100 meters.

Lands and Survey’s Geographic Information System is also utilised, with the map system providing on-screen display of house numbers and other information relevant to emergency telecommunicators and first-responders.

Hal Ebanks, the EMS acting manager, welcomed this development. “Sat-Trak will be beneficial as it provides paramedics in the responding units with up-to-the-minute information regarding the location of an incident. This can be vital, as every moment counts during an emergency. Another key feature is that the fleet management and maintenance information can be utilized to project vehicle usage and life-span based on the data collected.”

Information is transmitted from vehicles to the 911 centre using cellular technology. The 911 system dispatches all emergency vehicles.  Emergency Communications Manager Brent Finster said that the primary advantage of the system’s capability its that it allows staff who are monitoring the vehicles on computer screens to dispatch the closest appropriate vehicle to the specific emergency situation and to monitor the response.

Police Commissioner David Baines said the RCIPS also embraces this new service. “This equipment will enable the RCIPS to get to emergencies sooner, identify the nearest patrol and deploy those assets to best effect. This will help us be on scene to help our communities faster – and that has to be good!”

The system retains historical data for a period of time, facilitating useful historical references. Printed reports are also possible.  Officials note that these features should also enhance Freedom of Information options, as well as meet possible legal requirements.

In addition to vehicle locations, Sat-Trak indicates whether or not a vehicle is running, and if it is moving it reports the route and speed. The system can also isolate a particular emergency service provider even when it is part of a group.

Further, as well as vehicle beacons, every emergency service using the system has in place a perimeter alert. This advises dispatchers every time vehicles enter or leave their respective compounds. 

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Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what great "new" technology!

    I too get a laugh out of this, as I have GPS I placed on my car to monitor my teen driver.   Real "high" tech and real "new" technology, what a joke.  Guess Cayman really is about 15 years behind the rest of the world.

  2. Bracker Dan says:

     Yeah Bushy, push some of da tech this side, na!

     

  3. Been there, done that says:

    You’ve got to be joking?  A 76 sq. mile island needs to have GPS location information on its emergency vehicles???

    This type of technology will not likely help to save a life as the 9-1-1 center should already be keenly aware of the location of the units that it dispatches.  This will simply put blame elsewhere when a medic unit is delayed because the police have not arrived to secure the scene of an incident involving weapons.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No more sleeping on night shift for police then!

  5. Anonymous says:

    And if I am correct Sat Trac is owned by the Security Center.  Another example of how one back scratches the other.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time that these police get supervised. Well needed.

  7. AJ says:

    If installed in all police cars, could this also track police that the community says are "lolly-gagging" around?  Maybe this will help improve policing as it can monitor where police units are, how long they stayed in a certain area, and which areas are being avoided (as according to other posts)! 

    • Anonymous says:

      A great start! 

      What we need now are medical monitors installed on the officers…. the kind that can detect snoring.

  8. Anonymous says:

    AMEN! From one Bracca to da Next!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr. Eric Bush,

    Congratulations on the GPS for first responders, now get back to work and get our ambulances fixed on the Brac.

    Sign Me,

    We part of the Cayman Islands too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!