Poughkeepsie… According to Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus, “Dutchess County recently installed a Computer Aided Dispatch System for wireless 911 calls. This new system enables us to respond quickly to those in need. With over 50% of the 911 calls coming from cell phones, this capability is essential, and we already have documented proof of its value.”
In the past month, Dutchess County has implemented and tested the new Dispatch Computer system which includes mapping. The new system is a tremendous asset in locating cellular phone callers.
The technology, costing approximately $580,000, makes it easier for emergency responders to locate fires or accidents called in from cellular phones.
On June 24, 2006, Dutchess County 9-1-1 Center Public Safety Dispatcher Margaret Mulligan received a cellular call at 12:18 a.m. from two hikers reporting they were unsure of their exact location, but they were somewhere on the Appalachian Trail.
Dispatcher Mulligan was able to obtain the current latitude and longitude and plotted the location on a map using the Computer Aided Dispatch System.
A determination was made that the call was somewhere along the Appalachian Trail off Hortontown Road and a dispatch was issued to the Town of East Fishkill Police and Fire Departments to respond for a search of the two hikers. One hour and forty minutes later, the hikers were located.
In the past, County dispatchers might have requested assistance from police agencies with bloodhounds and called in firefighters to comb the area for the lost persons. Dispatchers might have called for a state police helicopter. All because mobile phone calls were hard to trace.
"Previously, calls made from a cell phone, were not traceable. The call went to the state police, who transferred it to us," said DeWitt Sagendorph, Emergency response Coordinator." We had structure fires phoned into us as well as people lost and we had no way of locating them."
“The technology can work in two ways,” Sagendorph added. “If the phone is newer, it may have a global positioning system chip. Otherwise, the phone signal uses three cell towers to triangulate and transmit its rough location.”
This is the first successful use of the County’s New Computer Aided Dispatch System in finding a lost person.
Steinhaus concluded, “This is another way we are preparing for the events that could cause harm to our County residents. It is another way to show that Dutchess County Government Cares.”