New technology could help Manatee County 911 dispatchers do their jobs up to two to three minutes faster and more accurately and save lives, officials said.
The new program, Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), allows outside alarm monitoring companies such as Brinks and Vector to send information directly to call takers in the 911 Call Center through the computer. Dispatchers are then able to see the call on their screens, process the information and send the proper personnel. The ASAP service eliminates the need for alarm companies to call the 911 center to relay information.
Alarm calls come in to 911 for fires, medical issues, burglaries and other emergencies at homes and businesses.
The computer-aided process saves two to three minutes of call processing, even allowing dispatchers to message the alarm company through the computer. The alarm company can also see that responders have been dispatched.
Manatee County Emergency Communications Chief Jacob Saur said the average response time is about nine minutes from the moment first responders get the call to arriving at the scene. So shaving minutes off that time is “tremendous,” he said.
The program rolled out last week. So far, more than 30 alarm calls have been taken, officials said Wednesday.
Gerry Tenorio, a Manatee County 911 dispatcher, said it should expedite the process because there won’t be time spent processing the call, which could take as long as 90 seconds. Time that could be the difference between life and death.
“Coming from the alarm company, we should have basically the general information already, so it could save seconds. That could actually improve our customer service by giving us the ability to answer another 911 call,” Tenorio said.
Because it all happens through the computer, dispatchers can process the call and dispatch the proper agency in under a minute, Tenorio said.
“It’s a very simple process and it should be smooth, so that’s what we’re hoping for,” Tenorio said. “(The call) drops right into our system and we just dispatch it from there.”
The new program should also cut down on the chances for error.
“When we get an alarm there’s normal human error, they can transpose the address wrong, they can hear the address wrong, so we’re eliminating that part of it,” Saur said.
Not all Manatee County alarm monitoring companies are part of the new program but as the technology grows, Saur expects more monitoring stations to participate. Currently, they have nine alarm companies signed up.
Half of all Manatee County property owners with emergency monitoring systems - an estimated 75,000 homes and businesses - will benefit from the new technology, Saur said in a press release. That number is expected to rise to 75 percent when ADT Alarm Monitoring joins the new protocol, which Saur said could be within the next month.
Manatee County is the the 25th agency in the United States and second agency in the state to adopt the technology, with Boca Raton also participating in the program, Saur said.
All alarm calls, even false alarms, are treated as an emergency, but as the alarm company finds out what is occurring they can send the information in real time to the 911 center. It will quickly pop up on the screen and dispatchers can slow responders if necessary, Saur noted.
More new technology for the 911 center is expected this fall, when Saur expects text to 911 to roll out.