Emergency Services Upgrades Tested in Massachusetts Town


JACK MINCH | | Thursday, February 25, 2010

TOWNSEND - Work on a $250,000 upgrade to the emergency services dispatch center's radios and computer software approved at Town Meeting nearly two years ago is being tested and expected to go online in the coming months, according to police Lt. David Profit. But new software that will allow paramedics to complete paperwork while on the road is expected to be up and running in about a month, said Fire Chief Donald Klein.

The $22,500 cost of the software for paramedics was not included in the Town Meeting appropriation and is being paid for from an account funded by patients who used the town's ambulance services, he said. "The EMS people on the trucks can write up their reports and download them here to the server," Klein said.

The Fire Department has already bought three refurbished Panasonic Toughbook laptop computers for paramedics to use while in the field. The laptops each cost about $5,000 new, but the department paid $2,500 for each, Klein said. The software is part of an overall upgrade of the computer system in the 20-year-old police station's dispatch center on Brookline Road. "A lot of it has to do with agency security and safety, said Profit.

The new system will eventually provide information on such things as the locations of fire hydrants and intersections, and even medical information, such as whether residents at a chosen address are using oxygen, Klein said.

The dispatch center is transitioning from its old Motorola system to a new computer network system that includes the records management system for the Fire Department, Profit said. "We are very close," he said. "We did a cut-over to our new network about two weeks ago." Testing is ongoing, Profit said.

Once the new system goes online, it will allow the police and fire departments to share information and let officers pull up information without going through the dispatcher, he said.

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