A system that will speed up the response time for Dunwoody’s fire and EMS calls is nearly complete, said Dunwoody City Manager Warren Hutmacher.
For about a year, the city has been working with its 911 provider, ChatComm, and DeKalb County’s E-911 Center to create a computer system that will seamlessly connect the two entities.
But there have been many bumps in the road. Technical issues and disagreements between the parties have made the system take much longer than expected.
“I think we’ve gotten to the point now where we’ve gotten past all the hurdles with all the entities to move forward,” Hutmacher said. “What remains is just testing.”
Because it does not have its own fire department, all Dunwoody fire and EMS calls must be transferred from ChatComm to a DeKalb County call taker for dispatch. The computer automated dispatch system, known as a ‘CAD to CAD,’ will automatically send the information to the DeKalb County computer, speeding up the process.
The system has taken about a year longer than expected to install. Dunwoody joined ChatComm – a private 911 authority with Sandy Springs and Johns Creek – in October 2011. Dunwoody had hoped to have CAD to CAD up and running at the time of the switchover, but there have been several issues, most recently technical issues over the different types of connections used by ChatComm and DeKalb County.
“Our staff worked tirelessly to mediate and make sure everyone had what they needed,” Hutmacher said. “We’ve worked through that issue now and we’re back on track.”
Hutmacher said he doesn’t know exactly when the CAD-to-CAD system will be ready to go live, but said city staff is working to get it ready “as fast as humanly possible.”
“The testing phase could be a short number of weeks, it could be longer,” he said. “We’re not putting a deadline on ourselves because this thing needs to work the right way. There’s no margin for error.”
Hutmacher said of the roughly 3,300 emergency calls generated in the city of Dunwoody each month, about 3,000 are police calls. The response time for police calls was greatly improved with the switch to ChatComm, he said. And though the current transfer from ChatComm to DeKalb County does cause a delay, a one-button transfer system is the industry standard, he said.
Nearby cities such as Doraville and Chamblee also use the one-button transfer system for 911 calls, Hutmacher said. So when the CAD-to-CAD system is up and running, Dunwoody will have faster response times than many other 911 systems in the state.
Some city officials say the improvements may not be enough. City Councilman Terry Nall said he is pleased the CAD-to-CAD system will speed up response times, but he believes opening a Dunwoody Fire Department would make response times significantly faster.
“Personally I will not be satisfied until we have total control, from the 911 center all the way until the first arrival,” Nall said.