New System Aids Nashville Fire, EMS Responders

September 18, 2013

A new text-to-voice software system is helping firefighters and emergency medical crews get to the scene quicker in Nashville, Tenn.

The nearly $500,000 system launched at the end of August after having been in the works for about a year.

The Tennessean reports that now, instead of a live dispatcher reading calls to fire and medical crews, they receive alerts from an automated voice affectionately called “Lola” or “Lolo” by workers in Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center.

ECC administrators unofficially compared dispatchers’ spoken alerts to recorded messages from “Lola” before the system launched and found that the recordings were faster.

“So far (fire officials) are very happy with it,” said Nashville Fire Department spokeswoman Kim Lawson. “They feel this is going to decrease the time it takes first responders to get to the scene.”

The recordings also help dispatchers by giving them more time to manage calls when they come in one after another, said Justin Moncrief, computer aided dispatch administrator.

The new system required officials to log the correct pronunciations of streets across the city. After that, thousands of road names and call types were sent to Locution Systems Inc., where a woman recorded them.

Officials say the system helps responders in more ways than one.

“It provides a clear, consistent, concise voice to the responders,” Moncrief said. “The streets are always pronounced exactly the same way.”

There’ still a need for dispatchers, who will manage calls and decide which units to send to emergencies.

“It’s not going to eliminate a position,” ECC Director Duane Phillips said.

The system isn’t used with police calls, in part because those require more conversation between officers and dispatchers.

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