By Dyana Bagby

Dunwoody residents will no longer go through a third party when calling 911 for fire or ambulance services. After a four-year wait, the Computer Aided Dispatch service for emergency services was implemented in late December.

Mayor Denis Shortal smiled broadly when asked about CAD-to-CAD minutes after he took the oath of office on Jan. 4.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

The city of Dunwoody contracted with ChattComm — or the Chattachoochee River 911 Authority — in 2011 to provide 911 call taking and dispatch services.

As an enhancement to that service, the city engaged in a CAD-to-CAD Interface project to provide for the electronic transfer of fire department and emergency medical services data from ChattComm 911 to DeKalb County 911.

Ongoing delays in implementing CAD-to-CAD led to debates among city residents and the council, including threats to sever the city’s contract with ChattComm. But the lack of an alternative dispatch service, other than returning to DeKalb County dispatch, convinced council members to continue with ChattComm.

“I’m delighted this is up and running,” Councilman Terry Nall said at the Jan. 4 city council meeting. “This is a culmination of seven different vendors. It was propriety software, and the reason it was taking so long was getting all seven parties to work together,” Nall explained.

Now, with CAD-to-CAD in place, Dunwoody residents can call the city’s fire and EMS services directly without having to be transferred to DeKalb County.

“This will shave off 90 seconds from response time. That’s a minute-and-a-half. That can make a big difference when you’re talking about life and death,” Nall said.

There is also a convenience factor to having CAD-to-CAD, Nall said. When phoning ChattComm 911, a caller is interrogated twice to get details about their emergency, Nall explained. With the one-button transfer system, the person would then be sent to DeKalb dispatch and interrogated twice more.

“Several times we did one-button transfers, only to be put on hold by DeKalb,” Nall said.

The one-button system will always be available as a backup, he added. And that backup was needed already — just a few days after CAD-to-CAD went live, a drunk driver crashed a car into a Dunwoody resident’s home and the CAD-to-CAD transmission “didn’t take,” Nall said.

“The one-button transfer will always be a backup protocol when there is a burp in the system,” he said.
Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said in a Dec. 28 press release the new system would provide a safer city.
“Although the one-button transfer of calls is the industry standard for 911 centers, the CAD-to-CAD Interface will provide an even higher level of service for our community,” he said.

Outgoing mayor Mike Davis also issued a statement before he left office.

“We realized this type of investment was critical to try and further improve public safety and emergency call responses. I’m especially pleased to see this project come to fruition in order to ensure our citizens receive the fastest response times during a crisis,” Davis said in the Dec. 28 press release.