Recording System Helps Natick Eliminate Dispatching Errors
—photo by Joseph Connolly
DISPATCHING fire apparatus to the wrong location can be a costly error. The Natick, Mass., Fire Department, commanded by Chief Richard Fahey, is one department which is discounting the error factor in fire calls by using an automatic recording device which enables personnel to “search” and verify each call. The system also gives the department a word-for-word record in case a dispute over the call content should arise at a later date.
Equipment for the system consists of an Edison Voicewriter Continuous Message Recorder connected to the telephone. Located at the dispatcher’s desk, the unit automatically records each fire call made to the department. No switch-on or other human intervention is required. Recorded discs may be played back at “conference” level, audible to a group.
The fire department’s reasons for installing the system were based on both universal and local factors. There was the usual problem of correctly understanding locations as spoken by shrill, excitable voices and by individuals with foreign accents. Natick, however, is also one of the areas where, within the 16-mile area covered by the fire department, there is a duplication of street names. Unless vital information in addition to the street name is given, it is possible to dispatch apparatus to the wrong area.
The recording system employed corrects this and affords the department “search” and verification facilities. As soon as a call comes in, the recording device is automatically activated and every word spoken is recorded on a disc—at the same time the dispatcher is noting the information on his call record. Immediately the information as to location is obtained, the apparatus is dispatched. The dispatcher then plays back the recording for verification.
The playback turns up any discrepancy between the caller’s information, and that on the call record should it exist. If the dispatch was based on incorrect understanding, the apparatus is immediately contacted by radio and rerouted.
A more common occurrence is the need for playback before dispatching, as is the case when call is made by an individual with an accent or when the call emanates from a duplicate street area. When this occurs, the dispatcher calls upon two or three members of the department to listen to the playback in a group. In this way, the correct location can usually be determined.
The volume of the recorder can be turned up or down to suit audio requirements. The shrill notes that interfere with understanding on the telephone can thus be toned down and the whispering individual can be brought up to an easily comprehensible level. Discs are retained for a few weeks after completion to provide word-forword records of calls, should these be required for any purpose.