Emergency Vehicle Response System
The public may be interested to know that a state of the art Emergency Vehicle Response System
has been adopted by the Town of Taber.
Emergency vehicles instantly get a map showing the source of 911 calls and a proposed route to
the caller displayed on a laptop in their vehicle. 911 Dispatch Center operators get a regional
map on their computers showing the up-to-the-minute location of all emergency vehicles, 911
callers and other significant items.
The Town joined a project in 2008 to develop an improved system to locate and route
emergency vehicles in the field during emergency situations such as 911 calls. 911 Dispatch
Center operators and Emergency Services personnel were concerned about reacting to 911 calls
quickly and accurately. Recent events had demonstrated that the origin of 911 calls, the location
of emergency service vehicles, road conditions and events that affect routing are all vital pieces
of information that need to be communicated to responders instantly. We needed to find the
most efficient way to track information and route vehicles from our regional dispatch center.
A partnership was formed between the Town of Taber, the Town of Vauxhall, the Village of
Barnwell and the Municipal District of Taber to participate in the development of a Regional
Emergency Vehicle Response System. The project was led by the Municipal District of Taber.
This system went live in July of 2009 and dispatchers from the Taber Police Service 911
Dispatch Center are using it to dispatch 911 responders in Taber, Vauxhall, Hays, Grassy Lake
and Enchant. A sample of the maps responders see in their vehicles is shown below:
Real time updates from the GPS units in every vehicle let dispatchers know where all our
emergency vehicles are by using the cell phone data network.
When a vital service such as 911 dispatch and response is being evaluated, it is important to
consider using the latest technology available in the most effective way possible. Taking the 911
latitude & longitude information, GPS data, municipal & rural transportation routes information
and using them to instantly produce a best-route map that dispatchers and responders can use
was an excellent way to leverage today’s available technologies.
Staff tell us the new Emergency Vehicle Response System is easier to use and provides
significant service improvements. Changes such as no longer taking the time to look up a
location on a paper map in the vehicle, better caller location accuracy and not having to record
location information manually during an emergency all contribute to quicker response times. A
survey of the EMS Departments involved has produced an estimate of 5-10 minutes saved on
emergency response travel times.
We have collected many examples that demonstrate the benefits of the system in day-to-day use.
Pinpointing a location with the Emergency Vehicle Response System has proved to be a valuable
life-saving tool in more than one real-life situation.
One example of this occurred when an EMS crew were transporting a seriously ill patient to
Calgary by ambulance. At one point during the trip, the crew had to pull over to begin
performing CPR on the patient and required a second ambulance to provide emergency
transportation while they continued to provide CPR. The crew did not know their exact location,
but the system did. The Emergency Vehicle Response System enabled dispatchers to pinpoint
their location to within 2 meters and send the closest available ambulance to their aid. This
particular patient did make it to Calgary, received treatment, and eventually recovered enough to
be released from hospital.
The Emergency Vehicle Response System has met our expectations of providing precise and
rapid location data and information recording. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and
in an emergency it is important to cut to the heart of the matter. If even one life has been saved,
our investment in time and money will have been worth it. We are sure that many lives will be
saved by using this system for years to come. As the Town of Taber EMS Manager, Cathy
Westerhoud, put it, "when brain death occurs in 4-6 minutes, precious minutes are what counts".