2010-02-04 / Front Page

HAVFCO Saving Time For Responders

Purchases “I am responding” system
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

A new Web-based system installed at the Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. in mid-January will enable volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews to save critical time in responding to emergencies.

HAVFCO has penned a fiveyear contract with “I am responding,” an emergency responder reply system that allows crew members to respond to emergency dispatch notifications with the mere press of one cellphone button. After receiving a call from the automated telephone system on their cellphone, responders can press a button between numbers one and nine to show whether or not they are responding to the call for emergency assistance.

According to company fire Capt. Scott Vinson, within a time frame of four seconds each crew member’s individual response is logged onto a large screen located in the firehall’s bay area. The responses indicate if the member will report directly to the scene, the firehall or even if they’re encountering a delay in arrival time due to inclement weather.

Vinson reported he first encountered the “I am responding” system while surfing the Internet and perusing the Web sites of fellow fire companies. The system is especially beneficial to rural fire companies where volunteers do not always live within a mile of the station and have varied work schedules, said Vinson.

“The purpose is not to leave crew members behind,” stated Vinson, who added in the past it was not uncommon to roll out of the firehall and pass fellow volunteers en route to gear up.

The fire captain noted HAVFCO is the first fire company in Fulton County to try out “I am responding,” and its success has already peaked the interest of officials from the Needmore Volunteer Fire Co.

“Everyone is using it at the station, and now it’s almost a race to see who can respond the fastest,” Vinson indicated.

The system also offers a variety of other detailed options such as what equipment is currently out of service, a log showing what calls each volunteer participates in as well as weekly updates on expiring equipment and course certifications.

Additional administrative functions are also offered through “I am responding,” including mass messaging or texting to officers and fellow volunteers on upcoming trainings, meetings and events. Furthermore, firefighters and ambulance crews also have the option to lay out their work schedule within the Web-based system and even specify what types of calls they are available for.

“It’s enabling us to get full, experienced crews out on the road,” concluded Vinson.

The company was not required to purchase any additional software, hardware or special telephone system to operate “I am responding.” Cost for a five-year subscription is $650 annually. Grant money is reportedly available through the state fire commissioner’s annual grant program to help fund purchases such as “I am responding” and purchases

and other related systems. Money has also been awarded in the past through the Fireman’s Fund Heritage Program and Walmart’s community grant programs.

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