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N.C. county to track ambulances with MCTs

The devices allow dispatchers to see where ambulances are in real time, and are expected to help reduce response times

Darrick Ignasiak
The Dispatch

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Mobile computer terminals, or MCT, that allow Davidson County 911 telecommunicators the opportunity to track the location of ambulances are now fully operational in all of the county's ambulances. The MCTs allow paramedics to view notes that 911 employees have entered regarding calls instead of hearing all of their information over the radio.

"(Paramedics) are able to be much more informed to what situation they are getting ready to walk into than they have ever been in the history of the (EMS) service in the county," said Larry James, director of Davidson County Emergency Services.

James reported the surrounding EMS agencies in other counties have the devices in their ambulances. The system costs about $163,000 combined for Davidson County Emergency Services and Davidson County 911.

The emergency services director addressed the need for telecommunicators to enter certain information so it can only be read on the computers and not be broadcast over the radio. James used examples of paramedics needing to know where a hidden key is located when responding to a call involving an elderly person or information pertaining to a sexual assault.

"Now, anything that's typed in by the dispatcher, the (paramedics) can see," James said.

James, supervisors with Davidson County Emergency Services and 911 telecommunicators can now see where ambulances are in real time. The automatic vehicle locator, or AVL, allows telecommunicators to dispatch the closest ambulance to a call.

Officials have explained telecommunicators have the opportunity to dispatch ambulances just entering the county as they make their way back from hospitals outside of Davidson County. Davidson County 911 previously relied on paramedics to tell them if they were closer to a call than an ambulance being dispatched. James said the MCTs/AVL should help with response times.

The devices also give paramedics the opportunity to find the locations they are responding to on a map. A route feature is in the process of being installed in the program, said Mark Robbins, operations manager for Davidson County EMS.

"It's went pretty well," Robbins said Wednesday, as he referred to the MCT/AVL.

Terry Bailey, director of Davidson County 911, said the MCT feature is the same thing law enforcement agencies in the county have utilized. The 911 director explained Davidson County EMS is the first agency in the county to have the automatic vehicle locator as he noted the feature could be installed for the police and sheriff's departments in the county.

Bailey said in a recent interview that the technology advancements for EMS have already assisted telecommunicators. He noted his employees have been able to deem through a map for the AVL that ambulances were closer than what the computer recommended.


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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