BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- Bella Vista fire and dispatch are set to get a few new tools to help better assist 911 callers.
The first is called Westnet, a fire alerting system that will tone first responders with an automated voice, replacing what would normally be relayed by the dispatcher inside the communications center.
“The computer will tell the system what it needs to say, then it’s a generated voice that we’ll actually hear," said Scott Larson, a Bella Vista firefighter and paramedic. Larson has been at the forefront of getting new alerting equipment to his department.
Adding Westnet will free the dispatcher from manually alerting first responders to spend more time talking with the caller.
Christy Terry, communications manager for Bella Vista, said the change will provide better service to people in need.
“It just helps, in the long run, improve the service to the community," Terry said. "That’s what we’re really interested in.”
Another change will be installing a new dispatch software called ProQA, which is said to prioritize 911 calls based on severity, as well as assist dispatchers in asking relevant questions based on the topic of the call.
“It tailors your questions to the answers previous," Terry said. "So, you aren’t spending a lot of time with repetition and trying to find the next question.”
ProQA is also expected to lower response times, as dispatchers will have fewer distractions and more time with the caller to better assess the situation. That in turn would prepare paramedics before arriving on scene.
“We should have a better idea of what we’re responding to so we’re getting the proper resources there in a more timely fashion,” Larson said.
City councilors approved $158,000 to be used for the upgrades during their meeting Monday (Feb. 26).
Terry said the goal is to have these updates in place by this summer.