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New $200K Computer Software Helps Naples (Fla.) Dispatchers

NAPLES, Fla. -- The 911 call that saved Donald Evans' life in November 2010 almost didn't.

Dialed from a cell phone in the Aqualane Shores neighborhood in Naples, the call was routed to Collier County's dispatch center through the nearest cell phone tower in East Naples. The county center forwarded the call to the city once dispatchers learned of the emergency's location, causing a slight delay in medical response.

Now, city and county governments have agreed to install $200,000 of computer software to link the city's and sheriff's separate dispatch centers for more seamless service to all county residents and speed up response times.

It's a move that Adolfo Martinez, communications manager for the Naples Police Department, said could minimize problems that occur when a cell phone is used during calls in parts of town without a cell phone tower.

Because software used at each dispatch center is different, information a dispatcher enters into the computer can't be easily shared with the other agency in its existing format. With the new software, calls like the one made for Evans can be taken by the county dispatchers but easily handed off to the city with the caller not noticing or having to repeat answers to questions about their emergency.

"Now a dispatcher in the city of Naples can type it into their (computer-assisted dispatch) system then can send it to the (computer-assisted dispatch) at the county directly," said Bill Rule, commander in charge of communications with the Collier County Sheriff's Office.

Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and Naples Mayor John Sorey agreed last week to cooperate in the $200,000 project, which the county will pay for. Rule said the project will take six to eight months to complete once contracts are signed with Naples and county governments.

"Technology is ever-evolving, and it has evolved to the point that we can do this," Rule said.

Naples Vice Mayor Gary Price is looking forward to the switch. Last month, Price compiled a report detailing problems with the city's and county's emergency medical services.

"It's something a lot of people have talked about and worked on for years and years - maybe now is just good timing," he said. "This is a critical piece we have to start with in figuring out how to use our resources the best way."

The integrated systems will make situations like the one the Evans family experienced go more smoothly, Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny said.

Evans' wife, Machelle, was out running with him on 17th Avenue that morning when his heart stopped. Donald Evans fell and his face hit the concrete. His bottom teeth split his lower lip.

She and a construction worker who called 911 gave Donald Evans CPR until a Naples police officer arrived on scene with a defibrillator. Firefighters and paramedics also helped restore a pulse and Evans was taken to the hospital, where he later recovered.

"The whole thing could have gone wrong in so many ways," his wife said.



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