TEMPLE — The phrase ‘There’s an app for that” might be cliché, but it’s one overused sentence that volunteer firefighters will most likely be happy to hear.
Local fire departments have begun using cellphone applications as a way for 911 dispatchers to relay information to emergency responders more efficiently than radios and digital pagers.
Tanya Borders, president of the volunteer fire department at Little River-Academy, said the volunteers recently began using a smart phone app called Active911 that not only relays emergency information more quickly than the pagers they have been using, but also will cost the department about $100 per month less.
The city and county fund the department, but volunteers also work to raise money through fundraisers.
Because of the new application, money can be used for emergency resources other than paying the pager bill.
Borders said she expects the app to replace the pagers; however, volunteers will continue to use the radio along with Active911.
The app, which costs around $10 a month, will help reduce radio traffic when departments are simultaneously trying to get information, she said.
In addition to relaying information rapidly, Active911 also provides visual information volunteers need but can’t get through a pager, such as maps of the emergency location. If the emergency is a fire, the app also will give fire hydrant locations, she said.
Shelby Bailey, a firefighter for the Southwest Bell County Volunteer Fire Department, said volunteers there have begun using CADpage, a similar application for Android phones.
If the emergency is a fire, the app tells responders whether the fire is in a building or on the ground as well as the locations of other buildings near the blaze, she said.
Tyler Lyman, Active911 representative, said that although anyone can download the application, it will work only for authorized emergency personnel who have access to a dispatch center.
Active911 is used by around 150,000 people in the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Norway and Australia, he said. The company is getting ready to release a version for non-English speakers.