Government

Lexington County, South Carolina, Implements Groundbreaking GIS for Emergency Medical Services

June 7, 2006
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Complete Solution Provides Faster, More Efficient Routing and Response

Redlands, California----Lexington County, South Carolina, has implemented an advanced geographic information system (GIS) for its emergency medical services (EMS). The agency selected the ESRI software-based Mobile Area Routing and Vehicle Location System (MARVLIS) from Bradshaw Consulting Services (BCS), an ESRI business partner. The implementation delivers a complete automated vehicle location (AVL) solution for providing faster, more efficient routing and response.

"We wanted to implement an advanced AVL system that would keep up with our growth," explains Jack Maguire, GIS manager, Lexington County, South Carolina. "We selected the ESRI software-based MARVLIS solution because it offered powerful, intelligent routing and dynamic information analysis and updates. Every incident where an ambulance responds is automatically captured and updated in our database. It gives EMS staff a real advantage in how they serve the community."

"MARVLIS is an example of how GIS technology can provide decision makers with the best available information, when and where it is needed to save lives," says Russ Johnson, public safety industry manager, ESRI. "MARVLIS uses GIS to query historical incident data to project potential new activity while retrieving and displaying real-time EMS unit locations. The combination of powerful data management, analysis, and visualization provides information that is easy to understand and act upon."

The solution uses Motorola's Palmetto 800 wireless communications between the county computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and emergency vehicles equipped with mobile computers. When an emergency occurs, Lexington County EMS dispatchers can quickly locate the incident and track the location of response units on a GIS map. Vehicle location, status, speed, and direction are relayed to the CAD system every 3 to 90 seconds depending on vehicle status.

First responders instantly receive incident information from the CAD system to their mobile computers. Continuous data updates are made even as the vehicle is en route to the incident. EMS units are automatically provided a map display of the incident, their current location, and appropriate route.

This enhances driver confidence in getting to the right location as quickly as possible. Touch screen controls and an intuitive, user-defined interface allow both dispatchers and responders to quickly view data when and how it is needed.

After the incident is closed, all the data taken from the field is updated into the primary dispatch database and becomes immediately operationally available. For example, if a bridge or street is not in service due to construction, the data is captured and updated into the database for future calls.

Another powerful feature of the system is the ability to display potential EMS activity locations. The historical EMS incident database is continuously queried. Based on previous call activity, GIS-generated maps show potential future incident hot spots. With a goal of being able to respond to Advanced Life Safety incidents within four minutes, GIS calculates and displays a four- minute response polygon or "halo" around each EMS unit to illustrate where adequate response coverage exists based on the probability of future activity.

The county implemented the solution in the second quarter of 2006. BCS provided implementation services and application customization. MARVLIS uses ESRI technologies including ArcGIS Desktop, NetEngine, and MapObjects. In addition, the solution fully integrates with the county's existing enterprise GIS, also developed using ESRI software. Future plans include expanding the system to fire, public safety, and other county field services.

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