First responders praise advances in emergency alert system - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

First responders praise advances in emergency alert system

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BECKLEY (WVVA) First responders are calling advances on a new alert system a possible lifesaver in an emergency on Thursday. 

Cell phone carriers have programs that help its users shop, get directors, or find the best sushi in town. But now, when it comes to surviving a fire, there'a an app for that, too. 

"We used have to go through four, maybe five, big thick three ring binders. And you would have to pilfer through to find that address. I mean it was organized, but it took time," said Raleigh County Fire Levy Admin. Kevin Price. 

Now, first responders are cutting down on that time with the Active 911 app.

First, the app alerts firefighters to an emergency. Then, it gives them directions, the location of nearby fire hydrants, and even, in some cases, the water pressure. 

"In an emergency situation, things get a little crazy and sometimes if you have something to fall back on, you push a button, and suddenly you see that the fire hydrant is on the right side of the road," adds Price. 

While Price credits the app with helping Beckley firefighters lower their ISO rating and residents with their homeowners insurance, firefighters in rural areas struggle with the app when there is a lack of cell service. 

It is for that reason that Coal City Fire Chief Dustin Boggs only uses Active 911 as a back-up. "Our primary source is still our 911 pagers. If cell service doesn't cover an area, we can't get an alert." 

While the technology does not help everywhere, Price said it is improving every day, with new information to help firefighters find their way. 

"For first responders, their enemy is time. As soon as the 911 center receives the call, that time starts working against you." 

Price and Chief Boggs said they can also use the app to see where other first responders are located, and call for backup if needed." 

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