A local fire chief is speaking out, saying an outdated emergency dispatch system is putting lives at risk in Washoe County.
There are three main jurisdictions in Washoe County, four different emergency dispatch centers that don’t communicate easily, and what Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charles Moore calls a very outdated system. Moore said it’s inefficient, and already causing life-threatening delays.
“There was a respiratory arrest that was 900 feet away from one of our fire stations,” Moore said. “We were not dispatched. The response came from six minutes away. If you’re not breathing for six minutes, you’re in a whole lot of trouble. So that, by way of an anecdote, this happens, actually, a lot.”
The jurisdictional map is covered in squiggly lines marking the boundaries between Reno Fire, Sparks Fire, and Washoe County’s service, Truckee Meadows Fire. That map decides which agency responds to you in an emergency, regardless of which resources are closest.
“Not everyone would know at any particular time whether you’re in the City of Reno, City of Sparks, or Washoe County,” Moore said. “So if it’s hard enough for the citizens, it’s hard enough for the firefighters and dispatchers to know where pieces of equipment are.”
It’s a confusing system that for years has prompted calls for a consolidated, regional fire service. But that is a complicated process and a hot-button issue that has stalled on the political level.
In the meantime, Moore has a different fix in mind: one based on better technology.
“There is a system called Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL),” Moore said. “I can pull out my cell phone and open up a Lyft app and I can see how many cars are available for a ride. It’s the same kind of technology.”
Ideally, Moore said this system upgrade, with some streamlining of the dispatch centers, could cut down on delays and save lives.
Channel 2 has reached out to the other jurisdictions involved to hear their positions on the dispatch situation, and whether this AVL technology could get their support. They have not responded yet.
In the meantime, Chief Moore’s full interview airs on Face the State this weekend, on Saturday at 4:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Episodes are posted here after they air.