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New 911
JBER firefighter Airman 1st Class Andrew Morris removes his respirator after battling a fire Sept. 28, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Joseph Coslett)
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New 911

Posted 10/25/2012   Updated 10/25/2012 Email story   Print story


by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs

10/25/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- JBER recently upgraded its emergency dispatch system to the Enhanced 911 response system. The 673d Communications Squadron and 673d Civil Engineer Squadron worked together to install and test the system, a Cassidian Vesta.

Previously, calls from commercial numbers and housing went to one switchboard, and calls from government buildings to another.

"It made response disparate," said Blaine Bish, communications project manager with the 673d CS. "The new system integrates them into one console and gives a specific location where the call is originating."

The E911 system uses GPS to locate the cell phone the call is from, Bish said.
The system came online Oct. 17. The next morning, someone called 911 to report an unconscious person, said Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Debets, 673d CES Fire and Alarm Communication Center NCOIC.

Within 30 seconds, Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Pugh had responders on the way. Security Forces and fire department personnel determined the person was not breathing, and started performing CPR. The individual was taken to the hospital, and listed in stable condition.

The GPS location sped up response time, Debets said.

"Sometimes you really have to interrogate the caller about where they are," he said. "The person who called was unsure, but we pulled up the location on the map and asked 'are you at this intersection?' and she said 'yes.'"

The center has one minute to dispatch personnel to a call, Debets said.

"With the old system, we were pushing that minute almost every time. Now we're generally doing 25 or 30 seconds. And every second counts in emergencies."
Last year the JBER fire department had about 1,800 calls, he said, and around 65 percent of those come in on the 911 system.

The project took two years, Bish said. Funded by Pacific Air Forces in 2010, the development, engineering, installation and testing to bring it to fruition took some time.
Responses used to take seven to eight minutes, Bish said. Now responders are often on-scene in three or four.

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