How Does Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) Assist the Telecommunicator

2020-05-27 17:58:00

The job title of the primary user of a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system can vary greatly; telecommunicator, 911 operator, emergency call taker, and dispatcher, are but a few examples. Regardless of what they are called, these unsung heroes are in the business of saving lives. In that quest, professional dispatchers count on the technology of a modern computer aided dispatching system to assist them in helping the public and first responders.       

Emergency Call Takers Rely on Computer Aided Dispatching When Seconds Count 

Lives can be saved when state-of-the-art dispatching software is among the tools used by emergency call takers. When a frantic mother calls 911 because her baby is not breathing, the dispatcher does not have the luxury of time. A delayed response of even a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Computer aided dispatching software instantly works to allow the dispatcher to provide the vital help needed. 

Integrated mapping software pinpoints the caller’s location and determines the closest unit to respond.  Through an Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD) feature, properly trained dispatchers can provide the caller with instructions for CPR or other emergency medical treatment. The interoperability of the computer aided dispatching software means the details entered by the call takers are simultaneously seen by the EMS dispatcher who can relay vital information to paramedics. This can include pertinent medical history, directions to the scene with considerations for traffic and construction, as well as entry instructions such as gate codes or unlocked doors at the location of the emergency.  

The Information in Computer Aided Dispatching Software is Vital To 911 Operators 


Combined with an agency's records management system (RMS), computer aided dispatching software puts volumes of information at the fingertips of emergency dispatchers. However, it is not simply the amount of data available, but the ease of accessibility through proper information management which is the true benefit of CAD software technologies. The ability to find key details in prior reports or incident notes can improve service, enhance first responder safety, and increase overall efficiency.

For example, the case of a missing Alzheimer’s patient is an especially trying call for service for all involved. Dispatchers will be gathering valuable information from the caller reporting the incident while field units will immediately begin a search of the patient’s last known location. Historical factors relating to both the patient and the location can offer clues about the whereabouts of the missing person. For instance, has she been missing previously and if so, where was she located? Does she have access to a vehicle and if so, can a description be obtained through a search of previous records? If the caller is not related, is there information about the next of kin in prior interactions? Finally, do earlier incidents make note of the patient's banking records so credit cards or ATM usage can be determined? Of course, all of these factors can depend on the level of dementia with which the patient is contending, which also could be found in notes from previous calls for service.


Dispatching Software Helps First Responders Know Where Help is Needed 

The first question most 911 operators ask when answering a call is some variation of, "Where is your emergency?" This is a common protocol for good reason. To help at the scene of an emergency, first responders have to know where to go. The accuracy of the location is paramount when getting help on the way. Take the previous examples for instance. When an infant is not breathing, how important is it for medics to know the address on Main Street is 1234 and not 1243? When the Alzheimer's patient is missing, is it relevant that she was walking east on 123rd Avenue as opposed to traveling west? 

Mapping technology with computer aided dispatching software can improve accuracy when identifying the true location of an emergency. When a caller cannot provide their location, dispatching software will not only display the numerical address but also pinpoint the position on a map and indicate valuable cross street identification.  This will be used by first responders to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible. It can also be used to aid the dispatcher in verifying the location of the caller by asking about their surroundings and any landmarks. 

The importance of knowing the history of calls for service was discussed with regard to medical and missing person cases. Law enforcement dispatching software is also a valuable safety tool for police officers when responding to a potentially violent subject. Regardless of whether an officer is assigned to a call for service or they use the self-dispatching feature, important information about the location or persons at the location can be found in the computer aided dispatching system. 

While patrol units are en route, emergency dispatchers can determine if there are any active alerts associated with the call for service. An alert can relate to a location, a person, or both. For example, the address where a verbal disturbance is occurring might have an active alert to let responding officers know there is a subject at that location with a history of violence towards law enforcement. Additionally, an alert might be used to indicate a person at a particular location has a disability and suggestions on interactions may stand to ease an emotionally difficult situation. An up to date computer aided dispatching system can aid the telecommunicator in providing lifesaving instructions. It also allows the 911 operator to access vital historical data, it helps the emergency call taker know exactly where help is needed, and it provides the dispatcher with information to keep officers safe. Regardless of their title, these are the first, first responders and the voice of calm in the darkness of chaos.