May 7, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
New York City is undertaking an initiative to streamline its call taking process when a citizen dials 911. Under the old process, when someone called 911, a police department call taker would get the person's information and determine what type of incident he or she was reporting. If it pertained to a fire, a conference call was initiated with the fire department and the same information was repeated. Then the fire department representative would forward the information to a dispatcher who would deploy the appropriate response.
The unified call taking program will streamline the process through improved technology and training. It also will enable the police call taker to handle both fire- and law enforcement-related phone calls, and the information will be shared electronically between the departments and dispatchers. The goal is to eliminate the time it takes to process the information and therefore get emergency response to the incident faster.
"With unified call taking, we are able to have the police call taker input information directly into the fire dispatch system," said city spokesman Jason Post.
"We've cross-trained [the police] on the fire department codes, and we have combined their systems so that the computer-aided dispatch software can talk to each other," Post said.
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