New Technology Is Helping Preston County 911 Keep Residents Safe - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

New Technology Is Helping Preston County 911 Keep Residents Safer

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We've all heard that time is money, but in the world of first responders time is lives.

New technology in Preston County is making first responders more efficient.

Automatic Vehicle Locator, or AVL, is a new system many Preston County first responders now have. The program allows dispatchers to see where first responders are within feet, speeding up call response times and keeping residents and responders safer.

"Seconds do really save lives if your talking about a heart attack or anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting or something like that," said Justin Wolfe, deputy director of Preston County 911. "Also with law enforcement, domestics, you never know when something is going to turn bad, and those seconds do really mean lives sometimes."

Using GPS and a cell signal that is 15-times stronger than your personal phone is using, AVL can pinpoint where first responders are anywhere in the county. This allows dispatchers to send the closest unit and help them navigate in bad weather or in an unfamiliar areas.

"I'm a paramedic with a local EMS squad," said Preston 911 director Duane Hamilton. "We were out on a call, the fog was so thick and we couldn't see where we were at. We actually got on a road and had no clue where we were. With the AVL the dispatchers were able to get us to the call and back out."

Before AVL, Hamilton's EMS crew would have relied directly on landmarks they might not have seen that night.

"A lot of times before it was the oak tree on the corner, and the rock on the right side, and that's what we had to go with," Hamilton said. "With AVL it's a whole different ball game because dispatchers are giving you directions and aren't affected by fog or rain."

The AVL system cost Preston County 911 about $40,000, which was funded by a donation from Chesapeake Energy and the Preston County Commission.

Preston County 911 said it is the only county in West Virginia utilizing the technology in this way, adding that it's all about keeping first responders and citizens safe.

"We have a lot of responders and it's out of thanks and gratitude for the services that they do that we want to keep them safe and also to the citizens of the county we want to provide the best care and quality service that we can give," Wolfe said.