Fire rescue agencies rely on smartphone technology for faster response times

Fire rescue agencies rely on smartphone technology for faster response times

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The new dispatch system coming to Horry County Fire Rescue is opening the doors to a new kind of technology; one that will cut minutes off the time it takes first responders to get to you in an emergency.

It's software that will work with the new dispatch system to send information to any member of the department; volunteer as well as many career firefighters, straight to their cellphones and iPads.

Horry county spans a massive area, so HCFR services an area larger than your typical fire department, and Horry County is uniquely reliant on its core of volunteers.

The software, called Now Force, will send out alerts directly to first responders
' smartphones. So any kind of call, whether it's a cardiac emergency, car accident or structure fire will come straight from dispatch and alert the closest responders straight to their phones.

Now Force will list the type of call, the address, and give additional notes from dispatch. It will also tell the firefighter how long it will take to get to the call and send directions via GPS. It even shows real-time traffic patterns in case there's a tie-up.

Firefighters will also be able to mark that they're responding. When every minute and even second counts in an emergency, the software is designed to cut minutes in a response where that time could mean the difference between losing a life or a home.

Now Force is similar to software other local fire departments are already using. 

Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue was the first in the area with its software called Active 911.

"The old days of map books, or trying to memorize every street that's going in, those days are gone to the wayside, says Captain Jerry Howerton with Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue. Technology is definitely coming in. We need to all embrace technology because it is helping our efficiency and our responses."

Howerton pioneered obtaining the software for Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue. 

"One touch. It pulls up on their phone and gives them a routing," he said about the technology.

"Murrells Inlet got on board with it and we went down and looked at it, and just the way that we
're set up and we're so, such a big county," said Brian VanAernem, HCFR spokesman.

One of the best features for both agencies? First responders don't have to listen to a patchy dispatch and can save time. They're able to see the type of call - water rescue, car crash, respiratory emergency- and the details from the caller.

It's sent by the dispatcher.And the benefit to you is that if you're ever faced with an emergency where minutes make a difference, this technology can be that difference.

Horry County is just the latest to jump on board with the software. Since Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue started using it, departments in Georgetown and the Midlands are also operating with what they say is time and potentially lifesaving technology.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.