Hamilton County hopes to trim 911 response times

A team of agencies including police and fire departments, Homeland Security, TEMA, Salvation Army and others monitor the storm's progress Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in the 911 call center building on Amnicola Highway.

The Hamilton County 911 Emergency Communications District will be implementing technology designed to improve call processing and reduce response times.

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol, made possible through a partnership between the district and ADS Security, allows alarm companies such as ADS to send alarm-reporting calls electronically to 911 operators, bypassing the need to physically dial into the center, according to a news release from the district.

Authorities hope this will save time that otherwise would be spent by an operator typing information into a computer system to dispatch emergency responders. Implementation of the new system will reduce clerical errors, cut down on call volume and allow responders to get to scenes more quickly, according to the release.

Hamilton County is the first agency in Tennessee to use the new technology, which also will send data such as addresses, names and alarm information to the 911 operators handling calls.

"The district is very appreciative of ADS Security's support and work in helping us bring this new technology to our citizens," said John Stuermer, executive director for the Hamilton County Emergency Communications District.

"ADS demonstrated great leadership and commitment to providing the highest level of alarm service response to their customers."

Local authorities on Thursday praised the move, saying it would result in faster responses and better service to residents in need of help.

"This new technology will cut anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 minutes off our response times," said Chattanooga Fire Department Chief Phil Hyman. "In an emergency, every second counts, so in addition to saving us time, it will undoubtedly save lives, too, and that's what it's all about."

Chattanooga police Chief David Roddy and Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services Director Ken Wilkerson echoed his response, with Roddy saying the system will improve community safety.

Wilkerson added: "From our perspective, response times can make a significant difference in the survivability of a medical emergency."

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.