Firefighters try to be on the scene within five minutes after the initial call and now a mobile computer is being used to streamline the response.
When a 911 call comes in for Omaha firefighters, they now have more efficient information to work with. OFD Battalion Chief Tony Lang says a computer in his command car is quite effective. “It actually tells you when you're leaving, the best route to go."
Once the units are en route, the chatter on radio dispatch is reduced. “You don't actually have to talk on the radio when you're en route, there’s an in and out button and that will tell the dispatcher so that will relieve some of the radio traffic."
In a situation when other engine companies are also called to a fire, the computer helps manage the situation. “As far as battalion chief, if you don't quite hear the dispatch then you can look here and see the companies that are going with you and it will also tell you who the caller was, where it came from."
In some cases, firefighters have to go inside a burning building wearing oxygen tanks. In a fire several years ago, Lang was the first to go in. Now, when this kind of situation develops, he can actually monitor his crew from his car using the computer.
“So I can put it on my board that I have the crew from Engine 21. I have four people in the building and then I can watch level of air monitoring, so at some point we want them to exit the building as a crew, so they don't get trapped in there with low air."
Lang's firefighting career spans 36 years. “You know the computer on board, a big advancement from when I started my career."
Lang says a future upgrade will reveal information about a burning structure, like where the gas shutoff valve is and also map out fire hydrants in the area.