SPOKANE CO., Wash. – Spokane County voters are deciding whether or not to approve Proposition 1, which would renew 1/10th of 1% sales tax to maintain and improve emergency communication systems for first responders.
One claim made in favor of the proposition is that the enhanced technology brings down dispatch times.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department said they have benefited from the sales tax since 2008, especially in terms of dispatch times.
Chief Bryan Collins said the technology implemented with the sales tax revenue since 2008 has been a game changer.
“Just for starters, the technology itself is faster, more robust and map based,” said Collins.
Each rig is equipped with a computer that shows where every truck is currently located, in real time. During a fire or medical emergency, fire crews can immediately send the units that are closest and best prepared.
The tax revenues have also brought a Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD), which gives dispatchers a virtual sidekick helping them with their calls. While a human dispatcher is still collecting calls, the CAD system allows for calls to immediately go out to every first responder in the county.
Chief Collins said the fire department has reported time reductions of 30 seconds or more.
“We, as an accredited agency, closely look at our statistics. We have to report those on an annual basis, and so prior to 2008, if we’re comparing he dispatch times to where they are today, that’s a very conservative estimate,” said Chief Collins. “In a heart attack, for instance, just a few minutes can determine whether or not you survive that event or not, and so 30 seconds is a big deal to us.”
KREM 2 verified what first responders reported. Research into other departments across the nation do seem to support what the Spokane Valley Fire Department claimed.
In an article for Fire Rescue Magazine, Jake Rhoades, Fire Chief of the Edmond Fire Department in Oklahoma, wrote about the ways CAD helps dispatchers get calls out quicker.
Rhoades said the CAD system reduced time in three areas; between the time a call is received at the 911 center until units are notified, during the time units are notified until they are responding, and the time elapsed from when units respond until they arrive on scene.
The decision to renew the sales tax past September of next year is still in the hands of voters. Ballots are due April 25.
Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Bryan Collins
Edmond Fire Department Chief Jake Rhoades