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Spillman Software Improves Emergency Communication

Communication is critical for public safety professionals responding to an emergency. It can often mean the difference between life and death. Many officers rely on the ability to communicate with fellow officers during a crisis situation in order to receive vital information and save lives. Spillman Technologies Inc. provides public safety software, training, support and services for first responders, including police, sheriff, fire, EMS, tribal police, airport security, port security and dispatch professionals. Designed to simplify information management and improve agency-wide communication, Spillman’s software solutions encompass all aspects of public safety, including records management, computer-aided dispatch, mobile communications, corrections management, fire/EMS management, resource management and data sharing.

Computer-Aided Dispatch

Spillman’s Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) solutions enable communications centers to manage calls from multiple agencies and across several jurisdictions. Dispatchers can have immediate access to critical information, including real-time call updates, reports, logs, special instructions, premises information and unit responses, in addition to automatic alerts on wanted or missing persons, possible duplicate calls, and dangerous or hazardous sites. Features of the system include mouse and keyboard functionality, keystroke shortcuts and customizable displays.

The CAD solutions from Spillman offer integrated modules that allow agencies to customize a system based on their needs. From stand-alone dispatch centers to multi-jurisdictional communication centers, the Spillman CAD system includes user-friendly tools to facilitate communication between field personnel and ensure data accuracy. The CAD module’s integration with CAD Mapping and the E-911 Interface allows agencies to accurately identify locations for responding emergency personnel.

CAD Mapping displays visual information about an area, including street names, buildings, landmarks, police districts and fire/EMS zones on a map. The application allows an agency to dispatch a unit to a call directly from the map by dragging and dropping the unit’s symbol over the call symbol. Integration between CAD Mapping and other solution modules also enable officers to calculate the actual drive time to reach a call by examining the local street network and accounting for barriers, such as rivers, canyons and limited-access highways.

With the E-911 Interface, officers can receive ANI/ALI data from a standard E-911 system and automatically transmit the information to the Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch system. Used in conjunction with the CAD and CAD Mapping modules, the interface enables users to view real-time locations of both wireless and landline calls for service on a digital map.

Mobile Communications

Spillman’s Mobile Communi-cations solutions empower patrol officers to access and share information anytime and anywhere. This type of wireless communication is fully integrated with the CAD systems to provide officers with reliable call information before it is dispatched over the radio. It promotes faster response times and reduced radio traffic while enabling mobile patrol to maintain silent contact with base operations.

Spillman offers an integrated set of mobile modules, enabling agencies to tailor a system to meet the needs of their mobile personnel. Core modules include: Mobile Records, Mobile Messenger, Mobile State Link and Voiceless Dispatch. The Mobile Records module allows officers to search local, state and national databases for warrants, stolen vehicles and suspect information and run license plates, name searches and more from mobile patrol vehicles, all without dispatch assistance. Field narratives and image display options provide the tools to manage records from the field.

Within the Mobile Message Center, users can view local or state messages received, including alerts, search returns, approvals or report assignments. The Instant Messaging feature enables officers to communicate with other personnel through real-time chat sessions. Agencies can build custom groups for an agency or zone and view a list of personnel who are online, offline or busy.

The Mobile State Link enhances the range of information in an agency’s database with a direct connection to state and national databases. Using a state connection, officers can quickly search real-time data for names, vehicles, property, weapons, wanted persons, driver’s license information, vehicle registration, stolen vehicles, missing persons and related images.

Mobile Voiceless Dispatch frees up radio airtime for high-priority calls, providing officers with critical information. It also allows officers to update unit and call status, view address and radio log history information, and view active CAD calls and reference details such as contacts, incidents and premises.

Premises & HazMat

The Premises & HazMat module from Spillman enables agencies to record extensive data on residential, commercial or public lots within a jurisdiction, including alarm types and locations; number of floors; responsible law, fire and EMS agencies; and physical premises descriptions. Emergency and law enforcement personnel can use this information to respond accurately to disasters or calls at unfamiliar or heavily populated sites.

With Spillman’s Geobase functionality and optional CAD module, the system verifies addresses as officers enter the data into a CAD screen. When an address is verified, the software indicates whether a premises information record exists for that address. The system can also store information about populated premises that are near a potentially hazardous area, such as a chemical plant or a toxic waste site. Within the system, officers can record data including population name and type; maximum number of people occupying the premises; population address; law, fire and EMS areas; and business hours.

To view hazardous chemical information, officers can link the Premises & HazMat module to the CAMEO® Chemical Database. With this database, an agency can access data on thousands of chemicals obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This database provides instructions for handling each chemical, flammability, level of reaction, natural physical state, burning tendencies, first-aid responses, recommended protective clothing, in addition to tactics to use and avoid while fighting a fire associated with a chemical.

Oxford County, Maine

Spillman Technologies’ software system was put to the test by several public safety agencies in Oxford County, ME. Despite its rural setting, the region shares national concerns about violence in schools, according to Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant. With the increasing number of school shootings around the country, 16 agencies in Oxford County took a proactive approach by preparing for such an emergency with a mock school shooting exercise.

The event gave the agencies a chance to test their new school violence response plan and, therefore, their communications as well. The agencies involved worked with the crisis team at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School to plan a school shooting drill. Officials spent more than a year creating a realistic scenario that would test the abilities of everyone involved. The participating agencies used Spillman’s Mobile Communications software after encountering radio transmission problems upon entering the school.

According to Chief Robert Federico of the Norway Police Department, the drill was modeled after a “Columbine-style” event. A janitor with extensive knowledge of the building was assigned to be the mock shooter. Parents and the school’s 1,200 students were given advance warning, and teachers were told how to put their classrooms into lockdown mode. Local fire departments and law enforcement agencies gathered at the scene, while a nearby hospital and the area’s ambulance services prepared to help volunteers assigned to act as shooting victims.

As officers entered the building to apprehend the mock suspect, they realized their radios could not transmit through the school’s walls, leaving them unable to communicate with officers outside the building except for one cell phone. However, the officers were able to circumvent the communication problem thanks to Spillman’s software.

An officer inside the building used the cell phone to call the Oxford County Regional Communications Center. As the officer inside the school described the situation, the dispatcher entered the information into Spillman’s Computer-Aided Dispatch software. Officers equipped with Spillman’s Voiceless Dispatch module were able to read details about the suspect’s whereabouts and victims’ conditions as they appeared on patrol vehicles’ laptop screens.

Gallant said his deputies used Spillman’s Mobile Messenger module to communicate instantaneously with other first responders at the scene. In addition, the Instant Messaging feature enabled officials to relay messages over the Internet without tying up the limited radio frequencies in the area.

Spillman software also helped prepare law enforcement officials to enter the school. Using Spillman’s Premises & HazMat module, officers were able to access an electronic image of the school’s floor plan. Without the Spillman software, floor plans would have had to be printed out or downloaded onto individual laptop computers.

The communication technology that allowed the agencies to effectively complete the drill is relatively new to the area. The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office has been using Spillman software for more than 20 years, but other agencies in the area have only been using the system for the past two or three years. The mock exercise garnered a positive response from the emergency personnel as well as the students and staff. Federico and Gallant agreed that the ability to easily access information and communicate it to the responding officers helped make the drill a success.

Jennifer Gavigan is the former associate editor of LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Jul 2008

Rating : 10.0

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