The Tracy Fire Department, in collaboration with fourteen other San Joaquin County fire agencies, formed the San Joaquin Joint Radio Users Group (JRUG). The JRUG agencies are dispatched to emergency and non-emergency calls through LifeCom, a division of American Medical Response. Requests for service are received at a primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The call is then transferred to LifeCom where the caller is interrogated using adopted Emergency Medical Dispatch/Emergency Fire Dispatch (EMD/EFD) protocols.
Effective communication has always been an important component of successful fireground operations. However, the modern fire service has come to depend heavily upon radio communications, so much so that efficient operations as well as firefighter safety now depend to a great extent on how well our radio communications systems function.
The LifeCom Communications Center is equipped with the latest advances in emergency telecommunications technology. These systems include an Enhanced 9-1-1 System; this allows the location and phone number of the calling party to be displayed on a computer screen which interfaces with the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) workstation. The caller’s location is then mapped on the CAD screen, utilizing an extensive mapping system of the District’s response area. The information includes individual address, locations of fire hydrants, fire trails, helicopter landing zones, detailed pre-incident aerial surveys, and road hazards that could slow an emergency response.
Dispatchers provide pre-arrival instruction to responding emergency personnel utilizing the Medical Priority Dispatch System which is integrated into the District's Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. Emergency instructions are given by highly skilled dispatchers trained in assisting a caller in life saving techniques such as CPR and the Heimlich maneuver - prior to the arrival of fire/paramedic personnel. Dispatchers will continue to talk to the caller through the emergency until the emergency crew arrives, and will assure the caller that help is on the way. LifeCom is accredited by the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch (NAEMD) as an Accredited Center of Excellence.
Department apparatus also have mobile data computers (MDC’s). The mobile computers enable command personnel to view real-time data from the computer-aided dispatch system and to interface with automatic vehicle location (AVL) hardware. This combination allows for sophisticated visual mapping and navigation capabilities. The MDC’s also provide detailed incident and building information and two-way messaging. These capabilities give Department personnel additional situational awareness when responding to emergencies and improve firefighter safety and performance.