If you’ve watched enough “ER” episodes or “Chicago Fire” shows on TV, you’ve probably seen dispatchers taking 911 calls from people experiencing emergency situations and issuing calls to appropriate agencies for them to respond. But how does this work for you as a Hazelwood resident? And, how are your tax dollars being used to get the Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services to you in a hurry when you need it?
Up until last year, the Hazelwood Fire Department (HFD) was dispatched by an agency known as North Central Fire Alarm, based in Overland. The HFD and others in the area paid for this service with 4 cents on $100 assessed property valuation. Additionally, the HFD incurred substantial costs for the software systems to document both emergency medical calls and fire service calls.
Today, the HFD uses a different agency for dispatching known as Central County 911, which offers a more efficient way of dispatching first responders to an emergency scene and provides much better service for the community. For 3.5 cents per $100 assessed property valuation, Central County 911 not only dispatches using the Global Positioning System (GPS), but it includes the software costs previously incurred for documentation.
So how does this GPS dispatching benefit you? With the old system, boundary lines were drawn on a map geographically around each fire station which were designated as their response areas. If a 911 call came in from a street in Station #1’s area, the fire truck and/or ambulance from Station #1 responded. In many cases, this worked out fine.
What it didn’t consider were the overlap areas between fire stations or the fact that fire trucks and ambulances weren’t always sitting in the station waiting for a 911 call. There are times when the fire truck crews are busy with inspections, training, school classroom presentations, and maintenance. What happens when a 911 call comes in and the fire truck or ambulance is a mile away or responding to another emergency?
This is where the GPS built into the computer dispatching system at Central County 911 provides an advantage. The system can “see” where the closest fire truck or ambulance is to a 911 emergency scene and dispatch the one that can get there the fastest. Old map boundaries are gone and the HFD uses the mutual aid provided from other fire departments to ensure the quickest response times for all Hazelwood residents experiencing an emergency situation.
And, if you, as a Hazelwood resident, need ambulance service to transport a loved one to a nearby hospital for a medical emergency, you don’t need to worry about paying a $700 ambulance bill later on. There are no out of pocket expenses charged to residents in the HFD’s coverage area.
The Hazelwood Fire Department: Working hard to provide the best service for our residents while reducing taxpayers’ costs.