911 dispatchers saving more lives with new system

MILLERSVILLE, Md. - When you call 911 and need help there is only one thing you want to hear:  help is on the way.

Now getting them "on the way" is easier and quicker in Anne Arundel County.

It used to be that the 911 operator would have to ask a series of questions, sometimes 12 or 13 of them and then call an ambulance to respond. Now operators break it down to three main questions.

"The operator gathers the address, phone number and the nature of the emergency," Lt. Jack Beale from Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.

Then that information is sent to dispatch and the ambulance or fire truck is one the road.

"Once the emergency responders are in route we are compiling information and then we send it to them.  We talk to a lot of people on their worst day of their lives," Beale said.

Jennifer Athanasiou has been a 911 operator for five years.  She says the faster questions made a significant improvement in response time.

"We're definitely making a big difference in the time.  Units are definitely getting out faster, it's an improvement," Athanasiou said.

Because time is of the essence, operators are getting responders on the road faster, sometimes two minutes ahead of the old system.

"When you have a cardiac arrest, every second counts," Athanasiou said.

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