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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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South Lafourche fire department gets new dispatch system

South Lafourche fire department gets new dispatch system

Galliano-based Lafourche Parish Fire District 3 is undergoing its final training sessions this week on a new dispatch system planned to improve information collection and response times.

Training Officer Jordan Collins said each fire unit can already be tracked through GPS, which the new software uses.

“The computer-aided dispatch system says, ‘For this specific type of call, this is the kind of equipment that we want to respond.’ And then it says which units are the closest,” Collins said. “If this bridge is broken and we put that in, it’ll reroute and say, ‘Since the bridge is broken, this truck’s not the fastest anymore; this one is.’”

And the system goes beyond that, interim Fire Chief Kully Griffin said.

“Let’s say you’re fishing out in the marsh, your boat breaks down, and you have no clue where you are,” he said. “If you call 911 and get in touch with our dispatchers, they can send you a link to your phone. If you accept it, it’ll use the GPS coordinates and it’ll come up in our system. We can send that to the responders so they can find you.”

This is the same software the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office uses, which Griffin said will allow for a seamless transfer of information between the agencies.

Collins said the system also allows dispatchers to know if the person has called 911 before or if the department has already responded to a home. That allows members to be prepared if, for example, the caller is on oxygen or has difficulty leaving the home.

Previously, Collins said, dispatchers would look at flip cards to help direct patients. Now, they can simply type in a condition – such as chest pain – and the computer system will provide questions to ask.

It can also show responders where hazardous materials are at Port Fourchon, for instance.

“We can pull up different information about the location we’re going to, whether it be a hydrant location or a hazardous material that may be on scene,” firefighter Kyle McCrady said. “We can pull that up in the truck and be prepared for that as we’re arriving versus arriving and then finding out after the fact.”

Dispatcher Jordan Gisclair said the new system is completely different from what the system currently uses.

“It’s going to help our response times tremendously,” he said. “With this system, we’re going to be 100 percent computerized – our mapping, all of our logs, our protocols.”

Fire District 3 is currently a Class 5 with the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana. The association ranks fire departments from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.

Factors that go into the rating include response times, equipment, training hours, station locations and availability of water. A better ranking can mean lower home and business insurance rates.

The department’s next rating will be in 2020.

Griffin said the system will further the department’s mission of providing quality service to the public.

“If it can make our job faster and easier, it’s an improvement for the community,” he said. “Right now, we’re keeping track of our response time by the minute. This will keep track of our response time down to the second. The national standards have so many minutes and seconds for us to respond, and our insurance rating goes accordingly. It gives us an extra avenue of trying to get our insurance rating better.”


-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.