When you call 911, you expect first responders to arrive as soon as possible.But computer problems at the St. Joseph County Dispatch Center are causing problems.
Some are worried those delays could mean the difference between life and death. That’s why they’re frustrated.
Some are saying the software should be replaced immediately, others are hoping it can still be fixed.
911 dispatch leaders say the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System is having trouble validating addresses. That’s in cases where the same street name and number exist in more than one city or town.
Dispatchers have found work arounds, including a quick Google search.
“I am able to override and put in the agency that needs to respond and probably even the area and quickly get it out. But yes, it’s very stressful to me and my coworkers when you’re trying to do everything right and the systems not working with you. We definitely want that to be improved,” said Daniel Tinkel, 911 dispatcher.
With 20-years as a dispatcher, Tinkel calls the problems frustrating.
This year so far there have been 117,000 dispatches in St Joseph County. 9,500 of those, or 8-percent, had to be overridden.
Some first responders share that frustration.
“Fire grows exponentially. If there’s a three-minute delay that could result in it being a stove on fire to the entire kitchen on fire,” said Chief Brian Kazmierzak, Penn Township.
Kazmierzak says dispatchers are doing a good job with the technology that they have, but the Texas-based Tyler Technologies New World Cad System has had issues since it launched.
“It’s not just a local problem. You can’t just say St. Joseph County, Indiana is the only one having this problem. A simple Google search will show you all the different areas having problem with this one vendor,” said Kazmierzak.
The system cost the county $3 million and two years to set up.
Tyler Technologies was not part of that initial process, but leaders say since then they are engaged in trying to figure out a solution.
“The case where seconds count, our folks are very good about working around the limitations of the software to get them the help they need as fast as possible,” said Ray Schultz, St. Joseph County Dispatch Center executive director.
The problems have led the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners to start exploring other options.
In July, they decided to get proposals from other companies. Those are due later this month.
They haven’t given up on the current vendor addressing the issues.