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Seeking Advice - When you have no one to turn to we're here for you, even if our advice isn't that sound

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Old 09-02-2018, 10:02 PM
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Default Fire calls alpha numeric app or pager

I am an auxiliary Emergency Responder that lives in a somewhat remote Texas county, Grayson County, Texas. The county Fire radio system is horrible. New out of area dispatchers hired and fired all the time. These two things cause me many problems in understanding the vhf radio calls and locations. Such as did dispatch mean Blackmon or Blackman rd. ? Or intersection of county rd 4545 or cr 5545? I hear that an alpha numeric pager type device can be used to read the calls. OR there may be a phone app that can be used. Any information as to these things would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:06 AM
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Pulse Point is a smart phone app that sends fire and medical emergency alerts, but only if your county or department is part of the system. Yours is not on the list. It costs money and requires a computerized dispatch system.

Having no experience with your area, it's hard to give much advice. The system seems to consist of several towers and multiple dispatch frequencies. Locally we have a problem when multiple towers are in the air and they are not properly synchronized. This leads to phase distortion and garbling. They try to synchronize daily, but it doesn't always help.

We also suffer from incompetent dispatchers. My favorites are sending units to the intersection of two streets which do not intersect. We also had a second alarm delayed for 15 minutes because the dispatcher was busy.

The problem is that public agencies rarely admit that they are not doing their jobs. They will also blame distortion on your receiver. They don't hear any problem. Of course, they listen to microwave links and not off the air.

It is very frustrating. Since you are a ham, maybe making friends with the county radio techs would help. They may be hams too and have the ability to get things fixed. There's always politics involved and that gets in the way of public service.

Good luck!
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:01 PM
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What notification system does the PSAP utilize? Most PSAPs of modern sizes do have a notification system integrated with their CAD. At my agency, we use Superion ONE Solution (just turned it up this past May) and Note Page Page Gate is the third party solution we use to notify command staff and anyone on a roster who needs to be notified of incidents. Granted, it is in the form of SMS sent to a device, but it works fairly reliably and we have a log attached in CAD where we know the date/time/operator alerted the unit/group.
I would reach out to the CAD manager through your chain of command and request being added to a paging group if one exists in their system. They can tell you what notification system they utilize and provide you with how your device can be added if approved.
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Old 09-10-2018, 9:59 PM
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I feel your pain.

In the dispatcher's defense, sometimes the caller doesn't know his location, or gets it wrong.

However, a decent dispatcher will know that Street X and Avenue Y never meet and will ask the right questions.Others just go with the flow and send on what they think they heard, right or wrong. Any alerting system is only as good as the information. Garbage in, garbage out. I've always found that some of the better console operators also run on the shiny red trucks.

That said, we use the LawMan CAD system, which is capable of sending a text message to one or multiple recipients when a specific agency is added to an incident. Your PSAP director may or may not know how to set that up. Other CAD systems should have similar capabilities.

An incident text may be cryptic not contain all necessary information, will be broken up over several text messages, and the texts may or may not appear in order. Or delayed by cell network traffic. Or fail due to cell coverage. Perhaps better than nothing, but the price is right: Free, provided your PSAP will set it up and their CAD system supports SMS..

We also use I am Responding. Their web site (www.iamresponding.com) will explain the details but my recommendation is easy: Trial is free, then pay for it if works for you and you can afford it. Plans start at $300/year. I just renewed my agency agreement for the fifth year. The list of additional features is huge and growing. We only use a quarter of what it can do in re record keeping and back-end reporting. .Again, only as good as the information the console operator puts in. Garbage in, garbage out.

Another option is to use Two-Tone-Detect and send yourself an email of the page audio. Set your phone's email app to scream bloody murder when it gets an email from that address. 2TD requires any old radio receiver and a full-time internet connection. Those can be located in a bullet-proof reception location, not necessarily where you hang out. Read more at TwoToneDetect and THIS RR forum. Andy Knitt is a great guy.

An alerting capable radio or pager in a coverage area should still be your primary notification method. NEVER give them up. The apps should only be a belt backing up your suspenders.
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