Boone County (MO) Reduces Response Times with NowForce Mobile Technology

Boone County (MO) Fire Protection District (BCFPD) announced that it has recently begun utilizing new mobile technology that locates and dispatches its volunteer firefighters and EMTs to nearby incidents in order to reduce response times. The system, developed by NowForce, locates and dispatches nearby potential responders, thereby shortening the time between when a 9-1-1 call is placed and when a fire/rescue unit arrives.

The largest volunteer fire department in the State of Missouri, BCFPD operates 14 fire stations within a 500 square mile area in the Columbia, MO, vicinity. The volunteer force of over 250 firefighters and EMTs responds to over 4,000 calls annually, including fires, medical emergencies, wildfires, vehicle collisions and other emergencies. The Fire District has also been designated by FEMA as one of only 28 Federal Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces in the nation.

NowForce's solutions, which include state-of-the art mobile applications for first responders and community users, as well as a web-based dispatching system, are used by public safety and security organizations around the world.

Since BCFPD launched the NowForce system, there have been numerous incidents in which its volunteer firefighters or EMTs have arrived on-scene in a matter of minutes. A few examples from the last month include a medical emergency in which fire/rescue volunteers arrived in 2 minutes and 56 seconds, and a vehicle collision in which the volunteers arrived in 4 minutes and 42 seconds.

"As a volunteer department that covers a large geographic area, we needed a solution to help us locate our first responders while protecting their privacy," explained BCFPD Fire Chief Scott Olsen. "Having a system that anonymously collects location information and then gives us the ability to connect with our responders both increases our situational awareness and more importantly, helps us get people on scene as quickly as possible."

The NowForce solution includes a mobile app that runs on firefighters' and EMT's smartphones and a web-based dispatching portal that interfaces with the Columbia Public Safety Joint Communications Center computer aided dispatch software. When a call comes in to 911, the system automatically detects if there are responders nearby, and then dispatches those who are closest to the incident. The system features enhanced privacy settings, through which the command center can "see" all potential responders on a map, however each is shown as "anonymous" until he/she has accepted an incident.

"Reducing response times to incidents can often mean the difference between life and death," said Chief Olsen. Currently the NowForce mobile responder application is being used by a core group of BCFPD users, with a plan to expand the program to the entire 250-person force.

"At NowForce, many of us come from backgrounds in public safety, and our solutions are all designed with one purpose in mind: to save lives," said Assaf Shafran, NowForce CEO. "We are gratified that Boone County has selected NowForce to assist it in its sacred mission of protecting its community."

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