N E W S R E L E A S E
July 12, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Julie P. McKercher, Emergency Communications Director
New regional 911 data system improves response times
Sharing 911 emergency call data in real time between James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg is now a reality as a new regional connection is in place between the three localities’ 911 Call Centers. For years, the three Centers have dispatched the closest fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) equipment regardless of geographic location of an incident. But those mutual aid responses have required telephone calls between the 911 Centers. With the launch of the new network, real-time data will alert dispatchers of a fire or EMS call for all three jurisdictions simultaneously.
The network was made possible by two State grants totaling over $350,000 and awarded by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) as part of their wireless technology funds. Terry Hall, Chief of Emergency Communications for the York/Poquoson/Williamsburg Regional 911 Center, says the goal is to continually find ways to shorten response times. “Tying these two networks together will streamline processes that save time and ultimately save lives. In the 911 community we are continuously finding ways to shave minutes or even seconds when responding to calls,” adds Hall.
Tal Luton, Fire Chief for James City County agrees that response time is the measurement for Fire and EMS success. According to Luton, “The shorter the response time, often times the better the outcome. This new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) to CAD connection promises to reduce the dispatch time, thus the overall response time for mutual aid incidents. In the Williamsburg region, where automatic mutual aid is the normal practice, this will reduce response times for many, many incidents.”
Julie P. McKercher, James City County Emergency Communications Director, further explains that the combination of the new system and highly trained staff is a win-win. “Being able to take today’s technology and put it in the hands of people that have the talent to use these tools to save lives and property is essential to our mission,” says McKercher.
Both James City County and York County have a history of working together for emergency communications. They have deployed a regional radio network and redundant 911 services.