New technology makes firefighters faster

By: Kate Tillotson Email
By: Kate Tillotson Email

News 12 at 6 O'Clock, Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MARTINEZ, GA -- A new system is saving time in Columbia County; it's called C.A.D and it's helping firefighters reach you faster in emergencies. Before now dispatchers documented 911 calls by writing addresses, telephone numbers, caller's names, etc. But now those sheets of paper are no longer needed.

When the calls come in, timing is everything.

"It would have been nice to have had it ten years ago but we got it now," says Captain Brent Willis.

Columbia County's new CAD system, or Computer Aided Dispatch. Street maps that were once on paper are now on monitors and they're accessible both in house and in trucks.

"The system automatically determines how many units it sends and then which ones are the closest based on their GPS coordinates," says Willis.

Here's how it works -- an address is entered, CAD verifies it, tracks it and then recommends which of the nearest units respond. It sure beats barreling through pages and pages of maps.

"Now our calls are more accurate and more timely," says Willis.

The two hundred thousand dollar system is also sparking a renewed sense of trust on the street. While en route firefighters need only look at the screen, see that they're on the red line and know they're heading the right way. It potentially shaves minutes off of their response times.

"It's about who's closest and who's going to get there the fastest to help the community," says Willis.

Columbia County has had CAD since last September. Neither Aiken nor Richmond Counties have CAD or any computerized mapping system in their trucks but both say they hope to have a version of it soon.

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