Nightly News | November 05, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to a situation where every second counts, getting help as quickly as possible to people in a time of emergency. In some cities, first responders now using cutting-edge technology to save lives and it's yielding some dramatic results. Here's NBC's Tom Costello.
Unidentified Woman #1: Engine 33, tower 32.
TOM COSTELLO reporting: In a business where time, minutes and seconds can be the enemy, new technology is helping to cut out a big chunk of it.
Unidentified Man #1: A......female trapped near the fourth floor.
COSTELLO: They're called locution systems, advanced computer-assisted dispatching now dramatically cutting response times for firefighters and medics.
Unidentified Dispatcher: OK. And tell me exactly what happened.
COSTELLO: In South Metro Denver , dispatchers manage a 270 square mile area. For years computers have pinpointed the caller's location. But now dispatchers only have to input the type of emergency, hit enter...
Unidentified Woman #2: Engine 33, medic 33. Fall victim.
COSTELLO: ...and in a fraction of a second the computer uses GPS trackers to find the nearest unit, determines who's needed, then simultaneously sends voice, text and map instructions, even transmitting multiple calls at once. In South Denver it's cut the dispatch time to just 31 seconds. The national standard is 60 seconds .
Unidentified Man #2: Turn left in half a mile.
COSTELLO: That's a half minute faster to a heart attack, a house fire or a car accident.
Mr. ERIC HURST (Dispatch Supervisor): If a person has stopped breathing, every second that ticks by we're risking brain damage, we're risking death of that person.
COSTELLO: For many departments, the technology is part of a post 9/11 Homeland Security overall after experts said first responders across the country were in many cases using outdated equipment and in immediate need of an upgrade. Similar systems have recently gone in across the country in Seattle , Los Angeles , Dallas and Chicago . With satellite imagery, fire hydrant and water main locations, even building blueprints transmitted straight to fire crews.
Captain TROY JACKSON (Acting Battalion Chief): It allows us to get information out to 17 fire houses with the click of the mouse.
Unidentified Woman #3: Confirmed commercial structure fire . Map tango 31 bravo.
COSTELLO: The click of a mouse and cutting valuable seconds off emergencies. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.