MFD's new, computer-aided dispatch system has flaws

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6 News has learned a new, computer-aided dispatch system went online last week for the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) and its emergency calls. The launch did not go well.

Fires, emergency medical calls, more than 100,000 emergencies a year. It all goes to the Milwaukee Fire Department's computer-assisted dispatch system or CAD. The calls go on a computer -- and then firefighters and paramedics are sent to help.

On Monday, February 17th, MFD officials believed they were ready to roll with a new CAD system -- replacing the ten-year-old system it used to rely on.

The company, Securus Technologies Inc. based in Dallas, Texas, had been testing the new system for the past year-and-a-half. In April 2013, a rollout day was pushed back due to technical problems. In October 2013, the state date was pushed back once again. Then in January 2014, the same thing happened one more time.

A week ago, the new system went live. What happened? According to the Milwaukee Fire Department it was difficult for dispatchers to figure out which rigs were doing what.

When a private ambulance had to be sent to a non-life threatening emergency, the response time was sometimes delayed. At times, emergency personnel had to go off the new computer system and go back to the radio system.

Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Gerard Washington says however, at no time did any calls get missed. He also told FOX6 News no emergency workers were delayed to calls.

Although Washington admits it could have been catastrophic, the fire department he says, is disappointed with the Securus system.

"We take great pride in dispatching the most appropriate piece of equipment to protect the public."

On Wednesday, February 19th, MFD took the new system offline -- and went back to its old system. Now the fire department is working with the Securus about what to do next to replace the old emergency dispatch system.

The deputy chief says the new system did not cost taxpayers anything. That's because Securus offered to update the old system because company officials thought it would be easier to maintain that way.

MFD assures FOX6 News it will not roll out a new system again unless it is 100 percent confident it will work like it is intended.