Solution For Scott County Emergency Communications Issues - UPDA - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Solution For Scott County Emergency Communications Issues - UPDATED

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Shortly after the January 17, 2013 fire at Del's Eatery in Eldridge, Iowa, Scott County Communications realized they had issues sending out mass alerts.

But Riverdale, Iowa's new system could completely solve those problems, according to Second Assistant Fire Chief, Mike Kleinsmith.

"With the Del's fire, they were wanting all the departments they could get to come out with water and instead of paging, they sent out a text message. The text messaging didn't go through to everybody and some people didn't get them for several hours."

And by several hours, Kleinsmith means some got the text message at 7:15 p.m., two hours after crews had been cleared to leave scene.

The Riverdale Fire Department has been using a system called "I Am Responding" for three years. It's an online company that's is monitored 24-7.

Unlike Scott County, it does not tax the system that already delivers a high volume of alerts.

When the station gets a dispatch call, the system automatically sends out an alert text, page, and email with information.

The system reports how many people are responding to the calls.

"It also allows us to know if we don't have enough, if we need to call for mutual aid sooner than what we normally would."

"It all takes about six seconds. The call comes in and the message has been sent."

Crews immediately start responding.

At the fire department, the screen shows them who is on scene, who is on the way and if more firefighters are needed.

"It's really helped, I believe, to be more effective in our responses."

In the case of the Del's fire, the alert system may have gotten more first responders on scene with water tankers.

"Time is crucial. the quicker we can get out the better."

UPDATE: KWQC spoke with Brian Hitchcock, the Scott Emergency Communications Center Director after this story was released.

Hitchcock says problems that occurred the day of the Dell's fire have already been resolved.

He says there still can be issues with internet delivered calls, like the I AM Responding system, and that radio pages are more reliable.