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GIS helps to provide faster emergency services

Virginia, US: The fire and rescue department in Shenandoah County has teamed up with the geographic information systems (GIS) department in the state to get emergency services to residents faster.

Each fire and rescue department in the county serves an area that’s referred to as its “first due.” The first-due company would be the first one dispatched to a call in that area.

“These districts were set up and established many, many years ago in the county,” Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said.

The Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Association recommended that the county’s geographic information systems department analyze how the districts are designated, Yew said, to see if the Department of Fire and Rescue should redraw the lines.

“It’s been many, many years since this topic was visited,” he said. “Always before, it was done by hand. Of course, we didn’t have GIS technology available.”

GIS coordinator Chris Way said this is a project he’s been wanting to tackle.

“I’ve basically used GIS to help in determining the optimum area for the different stations — or rescue squads, fire stations — based on the road network and the travel times along those road segments,” he said. “It’s all about traveling time.

“I can’t say they’re going to adopt it verbatim. It’s a computer and there are things that it may do [that] out in the real world doesn’t make sense.”

Source: Nvdaily