By Greg Bartlett
A couple summers ago, my dad cut himself with a chainsaw and we had to wait around anxiously for someone to come and help him since none of us knew anything about medical procedures. Even though help was just a few minutes away, it seemed to take a long time before anyone arrived. Like us, anyone who has ever called 911 for an emergency knows the anxiety of waiting for that emergency vehicle to arrive. Whether you need police to deal with a dangerous situation, an ambulance to help with a medical crisis, or firefighters to stop your home from burning, you need help and you need it immediately. Every minute that passes before the emergency vehicle arrives could mean the difference between life and death.
In the world of emergency vehicles, every second counts. So the dispatchers need to know exactly where each vehicle is at all times. Then, when someone dials 911, the closest vehicle can be sent to the site as quickly as possible. If GPS tracking devices are used to monitor the emergency vehicles, dispatchers can look at computer screens to locate each vehicle and determine which is closest. Dispatchers can have a vehicle at the scene much faster than if they are relying on many other forms of tracking, such as radio responses by the emergency vehicles.
For instance, in Minnesota, emergency vehicles have been able to reach emergencies faster now that they are being monitored and dispatched using GPS tracking. Officials have seen significant decreases in response time. In fact, by being able to locate the closest vehicles, one police station was able to save the lives of some of its officers who were involved in dangerous situations, such as chases with armed suspects, by providing backup almost immediately.
GPS devices can monitor patrolling emergency vehicles, sending the precise information about their location to the dispatcher. When a call is made, the dispatcher can not only find the closest appropriate vehicle and determine the length of time to arrive, but can also help the driver by finding the fastest route. By increasing speed and efficiency, GPS tracking can also save lives.
Although the GPS devices don’t save people every day, the important thing is that they do save people. By cutting down response time and reducing the number of seconds between the call and arrival on the scene, GPS tracking can save the lives of emergency personnel, victims, civilians, patients, and others.