OCPD Exploring Enhanced Alert System Options

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Fire Department is working on a project that could get help to an emergency situation quicker by utilizing resources outside the department.

During last week’s annual report on the seasonal performance of the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD), Chief Chris Larmore explained the department is working on a project that could produce an app alerting town personnel and even outside resources, such as firefighters or paramedics vacationing in the resort, of a pending emergency in their immediate area.

“It’s one of about a dozen projects where we’re thinking out of the box, which is something we consistently do,” Larmore said. “We’re working on an alert program that’s about 90 percent complete that is very similar to the program many councilpersons have on their phone where they can go in and see a call.”

Larmore said under the proposed system, an alert would go out to current fire department members and members of other agencies who happen to be in the area of the emergency and offer assistance before the trained personnel can get there.

“This call will not only alert our on-duty personnel in advance, but also our off-duty personnel,” he said. “It lets them know geographically where they are in proximity to the call and the severity of the call. It’s similar to the days when the volunteers carried portable pagers.”

Larmore said utilizing the alert system could greatly enhance response times, which, according to the report he provided to the Mayor and Council, has already dropped below four minutes this year.

“Imagine if that was to go out to all of the off-duty personnel or volunteers, or maybe the volunteers from surrounding areas that happen to be walking the Boardwalk,” he said. “It could go out to potentially other city employees, the beach patrol, mutual aid departments and even possibly members of the public that have the training for that call, be it a full cardiac arrest or other assistance that we need.”

Larmore described a recent situation during which a private citizen with the appropriate training was able to intervene in an emergency before OCFD staffers arrived on the scene.

“We had a very unfortunate incident a few weeks ago and it happened to be an ex-veteran of the military that was first on the scene and was able to apply a tourniquet,” he said. “It just happened to be someone nearby who had the training, saw the call and was able to help before we got there.”

Larmore added, “Imagine how far we can reach out to people who can offer resources to this town and this department. They can see where the calls are, the nature of the calls and the severity of the calls. We, as a command staff, with their permission of course, can track where those people and those resources are.”

The OCFD chief said the alert system is just one of the projects the department is working on to fully utilize potential resources.

“It could be an area where we can improve our response times,” he said. “It may not be a firefighter or a paramedic. It could be a beach patrol person or anyone with the training to get there quicker and safer. It’s just another way we’re looking at improving our performance.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.