On September 7, the Broomfield Public Safety Communications Center dispatched its first emergency calls through Colorado’s regional computer-aided dispatch (CAD) hub. Their integration was the final piece of a multi-year project bringing together four emergency communications centers and six fire departments. Since the hub’s implementation, emergency response times have been reduced by over two minutes in areas where fire departments border one another.
“It took a lot of work and collaboration to get here, but every agency involved was committed to this project because we all knew it would be a great benefit to our residents as well as our first responders and dispatchers,” said Communications Manager for Broomfield, Kristy O’Hayre.
Throughout the region, every fire department’s coverage area includes homes and businesses that are located closer to a neighboring department’s fire station than their own. Prior to the launch of the integrated 911 hub, there was a two-to-three-minute delay that would occur when a dispatcher had to manually request neighboring resources via radio or phone to respond to an emergency based on station location. Not only would the manual process cause a delay in response time, but it also was flawed because dispatchers had no way of knowing if neighboring emergency resources were available and near the incident. The integrated CAD hub eliminates that delay by automatically dispatching the closest emergency units to a 911 call based on the unit’s current GPS location of, regardless of jurisdiction.
“The new system greatly reduces the time needed to acquire resources for our dispatchers because they aren’t spending precious time calling another agency during a cardiac arrest or structure fire, where every second counts,” said O’Hayre. “We can instead focus our attention on the caller and providing our first responders with the vital information they need.”
Beyond the improvement in response times, the regional hub provides a highly beneficial tool for emergency managers and incident commanders during large-scale, multi-agency emergencies. For instance, incidents such as the Marshall Fire require a large amount of resources from multiple fire departments. Even, a smaller structure fire requires a multi-agency response. Fire departments rely on each other to get all the necessary resources on scene, and studies have proven that the sooner the necessary resources are on scene, the better the outcome for the emergency incident.
“Sharing resources as a region is the best way we can improve emergency response times and outcomes, and this integrated CAD hub allows us to do that more quickly and in a highly cost-effective manner,” said North Metro Fire Chief David Ramos. “The north area fire departments already train together, develop emergency response plans together and respond to numerous calls together, so regardless of what logo is on the fire engine or ambulance showing up, our residents will get the same standard of care, but more quickly.”
“The more agencies we can connect to this centralized dispatching hub, the better off all of us will be, especially our residents. During larger incidents, it can be challenging to know precisely where emergency units are located from neighboring agencies because the dispatching systems aren’t integrated. Utilizing a regional 911 dispatching hub will allow incident leaders to visually see where units are in real time, and first responders in the field will have a better tool to connect with one another to maximize resources and effectiveness. This system was designed to support fire departments, but it also has the capability to support law enforcement agencies to further optimize and manage emergency resources during multi-agency incidents,” said Ramos.
The creation of the regional 911 dispatching hub was a collaborative project funded primarily from grants, including an Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant that provided $1 million, aimed at building a scalable tool that can be phased in as a regional resource across multiple metropolitan counties. Additionally, another $500,000 was invested by the participating agencies whose CAD systems were integrated this year.
The hub, built by Emerging Digital Concepts, now connects Adams County Communication Center, Broomfield Public Safety Communications Center, Thornton Emergency Communication Center, Westminster Communications Center, Adams County Fire Rescue District, Brighton Fire Rescue District, North Metro Fire Rescue District, South Adams County Fire Department, Thornton Fire Department and Westminster Fire Department.
The regional CAD-to-CAD hub is estimated to field more than 62,000 emergency calls annually, while covering a response area over 375 square miles in size.