Wisconsin county approves pre-alerting program for first responders

The board of a 911 center in Dane County, Wisconsin, announced the approval on Wednesday of a pre-alerting program to shorten dispatch times for serious emergencies.

The program would consider additional emergencies to be rapid-dispatch emergencies. The 911 center currently sends fire, emergency medical services or police personnel after obtaining the name, location and phone number for certain kinds of emergencies, like an active assailant, a vehicle in flood water, choking or not breathing and a person on fire. The new pre-alerting would make rapid-fire dispatch available for significant rescues and structure, outdoor or vehicle fires, Emergency Management reports.

The 911 center board approved the change unanimously and without discussion. The decision is the latest development in a recent conflict between the city of Madison, the county and other parties over dispatch times. The dispute was over protocols and technologies, not the work of dispatchers and call takers.

John Dejung, the 911 center director, said pre-alerting makes sense for the new fire emergencies included. Not included in the system were vehicle accidents with apparent injuries.

The board also discussed issues with its new computer-aided dispatch. The system launched a year ago and continues to have problems, Emergency Management reports.

"It's better than it was," Dejung said, according to Emergency Management. "We still have a long way to go."