2018-05-14

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — A new $500,000 software program is improving township emergency personnel’s ability to respond to crimes, fires and accidents by alerting them to what they’re walking into and allowing them to work efficiently across agencies.

“It cannot eliminate dangerous situations, but it can help agencies prevent some things and address others with the highest level of efficiency,” Township Councilman Frank Santo said.

ProPhoenix, a type of public safety software that links the township’s fire and police departments and ambulance squad, rolled out March 5 and features a computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD, wireless digital assistant, or WDA, and even includes human resource functions, such as payroll and scheduling.

The new CAD gets GPS real-time mapping, providing recommendations for available units, and can send text and email alerts to all available responders on shift. When they arrive on scene, they will have everything they need from the WDA, from code enforcement and fire inspection reports at a fire scene to the number of times police have been called to a certain address.

“All of this information is processed at a rapid pace, so that the responders, officers and firefighters get the information within seconds, and they can arrive to address the situation as prepared as possible,” Santo said.

“It develops the efficiency of each department, increasing the safety of our community while helping to protect our police officers, firefighters and responders,” he added.

Ian Capp, director of communications for the township’s dispatch center, said last year alone, there were 68,000 calls for service, with about 47,000 just for township police.

The center is responsible for dispatching two police departments, for Galloway and Mullica townships, 10 volunteer fire companies and the Galloway Township Ambulance Squad.

With the sheer number of calls and the departments they work with, the ProPhoenix system allows for sharing information.

“In this day and age, everyone’s trying to work together, become interoperable,” Capp said, noting the software helps the agencies exchange information and saves time.

Ambulance Squad Chief Chuck Uhl, who programmed the system for the township, said ProPhoenix’s rollout has been a year in the making.

“The best way to describe the program is it’s so much more than a dispatch system,” Uhl said. “It’s probably the most comprehensive piece of public safety software that I’ve seen.”

While the upfront cost may seem staggering, the software will end up replacing a large number of individual EMS programs, such as patient-care charting, human resource tracking, time clocks, schedules and document management. That will save taxpayer dollars, officials said.

“It was very beneficial for us as far as not having to use 10 or 15 different programs,” Uhl said.

Officer Justin Butler, of the Community Service Unit, said it makes writing reports easier for officers, so they’re back on the street more quickly and not tied up with paperwork.

He also said the program will save the department $10,000 per year from an electronic ticketing software that they don’t need any more — just one example of many.

The system also increases transparency for residents, who are able to see a breakdown of what specific fire company responded to a call, information that will be published in The Current’s police blotter.

“The town’s going to be able to see what we’re doing a lot better,” Uhl said. “The reporting capabilities of this software are phenomenal.”

The new system is forward-thinking, with a growth mindset, Santo said.

“The township’s willingness to invest in the innovation and technology takes safety to the next level,” Santo said. “It’s great to see our departments work together smoothly and cohesively to protect our residents.”

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