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  1. #1
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    Default 1 minute dispatch

    We are having difficulty getting the dispatch center to get calls put out in less than 1 minute. In fact the majority of them are put out in 3 minutes. Yesterday 5 minutes. When I called the 911 director he told me they shoot for 2-3 minutes. Can someone give me a location or link for the standards that suggest 1 minute


  2. #2
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    IIRC .............there is an NFPA standard for turnout times ...........if it is not from NFPA then check ISO. In terms of the call taker/dispatcher sending a unit from the time they get a "mask" if thats more than a minute.............thats BS !
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    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    Give calls out in less then a minute? Bad, bad idea. (Generally speaking) You'll decrease the quality of the call to start with, and then your forcing the Telecommunicators to focus more on the clock then on getting the correct info from the caller. This is not to mention that many callers are uncooperative and plain just don't know what the hell their talking about or where their at..... Having said that, 5 minutes IS too long...

    Additionally, each call is totally different then another. I would dispatch a house fire in much under 1 minute, assuming I can get a location from the caller. You can't force a generic call processing time on every call that comes into a 911 center, it's unrealistic and unfair. Your setting people up for failure.

    Why is it non-Telecommunicators try to make stupid rules for Telecommunicators? Confounds the mind...
    Last edited by MrJim911; 11-07-2005 at 11:32 PM.

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    Calls should be dispatched as soon as they're received.....Even w/o all the nesessary information. A Fire Nature Unknown is a decent way to get the equipment started until all the information is in.

    Same applies to Medical Emergencies....We use Priority Medical Still on the line which actually starts equipment towards the scene until additional information is received and the units are updated. --- To delay a call 2-3 minutes just to gain all the information is a waste of time. 9-1-1 call ....get the equipment going ASAP

  5. #5
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    I have been a dispatcher for the last 6 years and a volunteer firefighter/emt for 13 years and I can say in a Computer Aided Dispatch center with enough personnel, 60-90 seconds is not that much. And not unrealistic.

    With that being said, you have to take in a few considerations:

    1. Does the caller know where they are? That is half the problem. Alot of people in confusion don't call 911 from their home phone, so finding where they are is a chore.

    2. What kind of call it is. This should be learned in the first few seconds of the call. I don't want to send fire units to a heart attack unless it is a BLS or ALS pumper. And I don't want to send ambulance crews to a structure.

    3. Is your department CAD or paper? This tends to add a few seconds to a call if on paper. With my current dispatch center, we take the call, process and send to fire radio operator. The fire radio operator takes a few seconds to let CAD recognize the units that should respond, tone out appropriate stations and then get them out.

    4. Staffing in Comm Center - Does your comm center have the appropriate staffing levels to do this? During certain slow hours our comm center reduces personnel to 2 people, a police radio operator and a fire operator. The fire operator also takes calls, so they have to take the call, get "pertinent" information and dispatch units. Notice I said pertinent. After pertinent information is obtained, then send the units and get further if there is time.

    The city I dispatch for has an average arrival time of 2-3 minutes from tones so we don't do EMD or pre-arrival instructions.

    Now the Sheriff's office that dispatches my volunteer department is a different story. They do everything on paper and will answer a deputy calling a traffic stop before they dispatch a house fire. It is all about who pays thier salary.

    There are certain situations where 3-5 minutes could be realistic, but it should be the exception not the rule. Most calls should go out within 1-2 minutes with no problem.

  6. #6
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    There are two scenarios here.

    "I'm at 123 Main Street and my husband is having a heart attack."
    "There is a car fire at the south bend gas station in the parking lot."
    "I'm reporting and activated fire alarm 123 Main Street."

    There isn't any other information you need to initially dispatch units to the call. It should not take 3-5 minutes to dispatch a typical incident like this. The location is known. The nature is known. Dispatch the units and talk to the caller some more after you hang up the mic if needed.


    "Umm, I'm on that highway with the big trees and I think there is an accident"
    "HELP ME PLEASE! I NEED HELP! OH MY GOD! AHHHHHH!
    "I think my neighbors alarm is going off but I don't know which one or where"

    These can take some time to acertain where the incident is and what it is. It is with great exception you'll here me dispatch units to respond to something somewhere but we know what or where. That's kidna pointless. I would expect the dispatcher to find out the details we need before responding which in certain cases could very well be 3-5 minutes worth of interogation. This however shouldn't be the norm.


    Allow me to give an example of the "great exception". Several years ago, our dispatcher received a 911 from a hysterical woman. She was screaming "give me back my baby" or something along those lines. She was unable to say what the problem was because she was too hysterical. The only thing the dispatcher had was the ALI so they knew the address. The only thing she could do was the "Oh Crap" button. Simultaneous dispatch police, fire, & ambulance and told them all exactly what she knew. Hysterical caller, unknown emergency. It turned out to be a pediatric code with some other really ugly cercumstances that aren't important here.

    The point being, you have to adapt to whatever the call happens to be. Getting the incident dispatched in a minute or so is perfectly reasonable for many of them. *Sometimes* it will take longer than that, its just a fact of life. And sometimes no matter what you do, you will never have enough information.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  7. #7
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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    I'll chime in also as someone with prior experience "flying the desk". In my case (and it is still this way) the department I worked for was a police department that also dispatched for three fire departments, two of these also ran EMS while the city itself had a free standing EMS department. All of this was handled by ONE dispatcher. Along with answering the phones and radios, we also handeled the walk-ins at the front entrance, controled the access doors to the building, monitored the city maintenance channel, ran computer records checks for officers on traffic stops and all of the robbery and intrusion alarms in town. And, when we were not busy, we would file reports, type our log sheets and enter arrest records.

    We did all of this, and a few other odds and ends that came along where the dispatcher was the only person available to deal with them. In that environment, we were pleased to be able to get the tones activated in 2-3 minutes. Sometimes we got them out faster, and sometimes it took longer. The reasons mentioned previously played into this, as well as the priority of responsibility in the radio room. If you have a phone ringing and someone calling on the radio, the radio gets priority... You have to look out for the units on the road first before you can protect the public. As with all parts of this job, you take care of your own first so that they can take care of others. It can be a massive juggling act sometimes to prioritize what gets your attention in what order.

    So, I dount that there is a "standard" on time from call received until time dispatched since there are so many variables involved. If there is any place that might have some guidelines, it might be the Association of Public Safety Communications Officals (APCO). If nothing else, it is a place to start looking.
    Richard Nester
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    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

  8. #8
    Forum Member Adam07003's Avatar
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    1 minute before they call you? Damn... generally they call us during the call or the second they get off the phone... ive heard 2 calls come in and you can hear the phone ringing in the background as the dispatcher calls for ap olice unit to respond also, then we hear the 2nd call come in over air as well.,
    Adam, EMT-B

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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    WOW...Some of these times are nuts. I think our county dispatches average is around 20 seconds. Why in the world do you need all the information BEFORE you dispatch the rigs? All you need to know is type of call (FD, PD or EMS) and the address, the rest can be obtained and then relayed to the rigs while they are enrout.
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    Uh, probably because I am not going to let a EMS unit enter a shooting scene with the shooter still there.

    But, that goes back to my original post, what kind of dispatch center do you have, how many are on duty, how many phone operators, how many radio operators, etc?

    For most calls, the scenarios above described what to expect. If they know what they need and where they are, it is not a problem to get a unit out within 45-60 seconds, though I have a hard time with 20 seconds. Maybe 20 seconds after the radio operator gets the call. Remember there is a difference between when the reciever is actually picked up to the time the first unit is notified. We are talking about that total time, not the time from when the radio operator gets the call to dispatch.

    It takes at a minimum of 20-30 seconds to get nature of call and address. If it is a true emergency stamp the call, add the rest of the information later. If it is grandma fell out of bed and is not hurt just needs help getting back into bed, then copy all the information, because you have another call the take care of. We can normally stamp a call with all information within 45-55 seconds with the radio operator taking about 5-10 to tone out stations depending on how many units go.

    A fully involved structure takes 60 seconds to go through all the tones before you even put your voice on the radio. But if they know where they are, or call 911 from their house, then it can be stamped in less than 30 seconds.

  11. #11
    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    And all of us are making good points... This shows why you cannot have a generic time requirement. Each call is different because of a multitude of varying factors that can affect the process time of a call.

    Every agency should have a Call Review Committee that sits down on a regular basis and reviews random calls or specific calls requested by an agency so that discussions can take place about how to improve policies or talk with people that need to work on their call taking/dispatching skills. This also gives the FD reps that attend the meetings a chance to see how their field units are doing.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber savoy6's Avatar
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    It comes down to the call, your dispatch center, the person sending out the tones and announcement(because let's face not everyone processes information the same, some slower some faster). There are so many mitigating circumstances you could give yourself stroke trying to figure it out. What it doesnt come down to is training, training, training. If your department doesn't invest in a little your going to get what you pay for, high turnover, low moral, and overall lack of concern. The area I work for takes great steps in including the communications personnel in getting them out with the firefighters and police letting them know what really goes on out there and why it is so important for you to get those tones out or that mutual aid request sent or contacting another LE agency for help. Because let's face it as communications chances are we won't be the ones getting hurt if we F*** up. This is a very impersonal job and what I mean by that is we work in two medium communications, we hear and we talk, we don't see, feel, smell what is going on out there so if you don't get your people out there your going have a room of senseless people. And open your doors let the firefighters and cops and dispatchers interact a little.

    I am still pretty new to this forum but it seems like a lot of problems with L.E. dispatchers and fire departments. What ever happened to prioritizing a call? I work in a combined dispatch center and believe me if a house fire comes in I could care less what a cop just gave a ticket someone for. That fire is getting toned out yesterday. There is a reverse to that if I have a pursuit and your calling in service going to quarters after leaving the hospital well sorry I might miss you the first time.

    So with that said have all your calls dispatched in 20 seconds or else

  13. #13
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firemedic8107
    Uh, probably because I am not going to let a EMS unit enter a shooting scene with the shooter still there. .
    Ummm, we dont either.

    Follow along...

    Disp: 911, what is your emergency?
    Caller: A guy just got shot.
    Disp: (While entering the nature code in the CAD) OK, you are calling from 123 Main St?
    Caller: Yes
    Disp: (hits send on his keyboard, printer at station starts going off, followed by tones & digital page) help is on the way. Do you know where the shooter is?
    Caller: I think he's in the house (call info sent to PD dispatch, second digital page sent to advise EMS to stage for PD)
    Disp: Are you with the patient?
    Caller: Yes (call transfers to EMS dispatch for EMD instructions)

    Disp: Rescue 3 responding?
    R3: Rescue 3 enrout.
    Disp: Rescue 3, you have a report of someone shot, caller advised shooter still on scene, stage for PD.
    R3: Rescue 3 copies stage for PD.

    Note: EMS dispatch continues to obtain information and this is relayed real time to the field units.

    Took about as long as it took to read the post (unless your a real slow reader).
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    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    Big mistake prompting the caller as to what the address is. You ask the caller what address they're at and let them give it to you to confirm that is what is on the ANI/ALI.

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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    Big mistake prompting the caller as to what the address is. You ask the caller what address they're at and let them give it to you to confirm that is what is on the ANI/ALI.
    Im not a dispatcher, so please explain to me why that is a big mistake. I dont know if our dispatchers ask, my post was a guess on how it works.
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  16. #16
    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    I'll use your example as that was a good one, but the same applies to any high stress incident and even non-emergent calls. If a guy is calling in a shots fired, chances are they are pretty excited, experiencing an adrenaline rush, etc... By asking the caller questions your forcing them to listen to you and think about they're answers. However, because of their current physical and emotional state if you provide an answer for them (like prompting in your example), they may just agree with it by saying yes because their goal as a caller is just to get someone there quick and answering my questions regardless if they are correct or not is the best way to do that. You always have to confirm with the caller the location they are calling from including address and town. I like your example, but it's worth the extra couple of seconds to make the caller give you the address so chances are we are sending you to the correct address; not to mention it's a huge liability issue for us.

  17. #17
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    I'll use your example as that was a good one, but the same applies to any high stress incident and even non-emergent calls. If a guy is calling in a shots fired, chances are they are pretty excited, experiencing an adrenaline rush, etc... By asking the caller questions your forcing them to listen to you and think about they're answers. However, because of their current physical and emotional state if you provide an answer for them (like prompting in your example), they may just agree with it by saying yes because their goal as a caller is just to get someone there quick and answering my questions regardless if they are correct or not is the best way to do that. You always have to confirm with the caller the location they are calling from including address and town. I like your example, but it's worth the extra couple of seconds to make the caller give you the address so chances are we are sending you to the correct address; not to mention it's a huge liability issue for us.
    Ok...that makes sense. Thanks.

    Like I said, Im not sure exactly what our line of questioning is, it was just a guess. But our comm center is pretty state of the art, so Im sure they do it the right way.

    I know we have the system that brings up the callers address automaticly (cant think of what its called) and theve had a new thing put in (about 6 months ago) that they can even get a location from a cell phone (GPS?). Its cool. They had a guy calling in false alarms one night and when the same number poped up for the 3rd time, they got his cell location and PD picked him up.
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  18. #18
    Dispatch Dweller Jay911's Avatar
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    The dispatch agency I work for has a maximum of 30 seconds for the calltaker to have the call entered into CAD, and another maximum 30 seconds for the dispatcher to attach the appropriate units and start the voice alert. This doesn't mean the calltaker has to have EVERYTHING on the call in a half a minute - it means they must have a call type and verified address. And you can't just throw up an "unknown fire" call type as soon as you get the address off ANI/ALI - another local agency does something similar to that, and it's going to burn them someday.

    60 seconds total is not at all impossible nor unrealistic. And it's a far cry from the 7 minutes that the previous dispatch agency used to do for the area I volunteer in. (Their "dispatcher" answered calls via a phone-patch on a portable radio, took minimal details with no standardized questioning, and had to go to their fire station to make the phone call to set off our pagers, because they weren't willing to make a toll (long distance) call on their own dime.
    --jay.

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    The GPS is a great enhancement in ANI/ALI operations of a 911 center. The problem is you have to have a GPS phone, which not alot of people have, and they must have it enabled. Most of your false calls are going to be from disconnected cells and then they are not going to have GPS. You can triangulate off the towers locations and get a general area, but you are not going to get an exact location and if you do, you will need to keep them on the phone if they are moving.

    I think the general idea is that you can't standarize times for calls, different scenarios give you different results.

    Same as fires and rescues, every call will take a different approach.

  20. #20
    Forum Member DualReverse's Avatar
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    Our office strives to get a call on the air within 60 seconds. We have at least 1 dedicated calltaker and one voice alarm dispatcher on duty at all times. We cover three municipalities, approximately 75,000 (we're fire/EMS only) persons. If it will take some time to get an assignment together (large fire), we at least pre-alert the call over the air (Attention, 123 Main St, a house on fire. Card to follow).

    Something else to consider is that not all places are consolidated. Many aren't, infact. So, by the time a 911 call may reach a secondary PSAP, 60 seconds or more may have gone by while the Primary PSAP determines what type of call it is, where it is, who it needs to be transferred to, etc. 87 of Ohio's 88 counties also do not have Phase II wireless capability, i.e., no ANI-ALI, so we have to untangle people (eastbound, westbound, etc)...So its also important to determine when the clock starts...
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