Monday, January 08, 2007

Here Yesterday...Gone Today

The scanner patter continues day in and out in the first two weeks of the new year. Nothing all that exciting. A few good pursuits and couple of decent fires on both the LAFD and LACoFD sides. Even BHFD got in on a little structure on the top of a center-hall apartment building on N. Swall Drive on New Year's day.

One thing that seems to be out is the LAFD "Quick Response" dispatch that I heard on the air for a few weeks at the end of the year. At first, I found it annoying, because they simply dispatched one unit (usually an engine) on a "Medical Quick Response" call but never gave out any further info. As a devoted LAFD scannerhead, that was disturbing because the LAFD has always been stingy on the incident info.

Since the advent of the Mobile Data Terminal (now called a Mobile Data Computer--MDC) the dispatchers rarely give out much info beyond the incident type and the address. The rest gets sent electronically from the dispatcher's computer to the MDC inside each apparatus.

So with the Quick Response dispatch I feared all info regarding the call type would be forever hidden from the radio traffic. After a few days of the new system, however, I discerned that the quick response unit would momentarily be followed by a rescue ambulance or additional engine or light force company resources once the call type had been determined. In fact, it seemed a great way for the LAFD to improve response times by sending the closest available resource right off the bat, and adding the appropriate level of medical response equipment once the dispatcher figured out the medical problem.

In reality, since firefighters on LAFD engine companies don't make a habit of hurrying to the rig for unknown-type medical calls, it's uncertain how much time this really shaved off responses, but "A" for effort in my book. But that new dispatching style disappeared from the radio waves after only a few weeks. It's possible that the department is still using the new method as a now standard dispatching procedure using its automated dispatch system that goes to each station via landline and has just stopped doing it over the radio. That system allows LAFD dispatchers to send out multiple calls to multiple fire stations simultaneously; previously, the calls would have to be dispatched one after another, leading to seconds of delay.

Maybe the indefatigable Brian Humphrey can answer the question for me.

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