As a retired professional firefighter for almost 19 years, I know a little about rescue operations in a big city such as Manchester, New Hampshire.
It was February of 1978 when I was selected amoung many to take my place in the ranks of 227 other brave young men and women on the Manchester Fire Department.
The Technology used at that time for dispatching and contact communication were simple. Very large hand held radio devices that were kept in a charging unit until needed.
The dispatcher sat at a console where he or she would receive incoming calls, alert the relating fire companies with a tone, then dispatch the closest company to the scene of the incident. The usual response time was between 4 to 8 minutes to the scene, barrring any mishap or inclement weather.The first duty of a fire rescue department is to respond quickly to emergencies to save lives and minimize property damage.
The communication system was outdated, and required firefighters to pull together information about traffic conditions, directions and fire hydrant locations to calculate the fastest route to the scene.
Unfortunately, I retired in the fall of 1995 due to diminished eye sight, never to see any new technology implemented on the Department.
GPS Receivers in Rescue .The new way!
The small sized equipment have had a large impact on the fire department. Using specially created maps, they are able to wrap up search and rescue training with the latest Garmin GPS Technology.
Any data that we need to know as a fire department, that the local and federal emergency people need to know, we can provide that in these GPS units with great efficiency and with greater speed. The information is transmitted back to dispatch almost instantly cutting down the response time to those in danger and in need.
Because federal emergency officials use the same technology, the information can be shared between the different departments very quickly.
It's been 23 years now since my retirement. I would really have enjoyed using that great technology while I was on the job. Time is critical in rescue. I'm sure the tools being created today will also have a great inpact on saving lives and property in the future.
Hats off to the men and women in fire rescue and EMS.