1. #1
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    Default Chagning over to CAD

    My department is in the process of changing from a hotch potch of different ways of dispatching to a CAD system over the next 18 months. I am after experiences of dispatchers involved in change overs and any tips they might have especially those involved in taking over from self dispatched volly deaprtments. For info, this will be going to one CAD centre for the state, as opposed to the current 2.

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    I am a little confused on your statement about one CAD system for the state. What state are you in?

    As far as the change over, are you saying that your current dispatch center is being merged with another dispatch center? If so, the ease of change over will be directly affected by how well the admin of both centers negotiated the change over. Are your dispatchers being taken in by the new center?

    What CAD system are you getting or going to? Is your admin paying the money to have that company come out and train all of the dispatchers?
    Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives. But maybe time is also a companion who goes with us on our journey, and reminds us to cherish the moments of our lives because they will never come again.

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    Default Changing Over to CAD

    I could fill a book on what to do and what not to do, but here are some pointers:

    1 - Make sure the vendor understands EXACTLY what you need. Document this thoroughly. That being said, realize that unlike operating systems there is no shrink-wrapped "CAD in a box" that meets everyone's needs. Be prepared to bargain, and know what points are critical.

    2 - Keep your list of call classes as simple as possible. All too often a CAD system designed for dispatch morphs into a Records Maagement System. While CAD offers good baseline information to RMS, its primary function is to assign units quickly and correctly. If the incident type doesn't change the recommendation, urgency, or give crews a heads up to what is happening, you probably don't need it.

    3 - Try to cesign a layout that agrees with your workflow. Many, if not most, newer CADs allow for some user input into the layout of the screens.

    4 - Realize that some people will require a little more time to get used to the new routine than others. Be sure to provide some extra support to them. Have someone make up "cheat sheets" that provide a quick reference on how to do things for everyone. It is quicker than looking through pages upon pages of the vendor manuals. Make sure that each facility - and hopefully each shift - has an in-house "expert" who can help with the transition. Even the experienced folks may need a hand from time to time.

    5 - Avoid knee-jerk reactions during cutover. If something is terribly wrong - like a unit or valid address not beign recognized - fix it immediately. However, if someone doesn't like the way something looks or works, refrain from changing it immediately. Let them get used to it, and give others a chance to try it out as well. Nothing is more frustrating to dispatchers than to have to face changes everytime they sit down. Keep a list of things that need to be fine tuned, then deal with the most critical ones as a group on a regular schedule. Most importantly, make sure everyone gets the word on what has been changed and why!

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    Thanks for the tips, I keep forgetting to put where, I am in South Australia, I think our hardest challenge is getting the volunteers to get used to it, going from the old in home fire phone system to being run by the state. Yes both departments will merge and there is promised to be no job losses!

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