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Naples technology firm Pure Wireless Inc. is working with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to make the community one of the first in America with a 911 emergency service feature that can help quicken response times for law enforcement, firefighters and medical teams.

The service will use technology already deployed in Collier at public and charter schools, by a 2023 Florida mandate, to show first responders actual floor plans.

Pure Wireless and the CCSO want to expand the reach to private properties—large multi-family and commercial buildings such as condos, assisted-living centers, churches, warehouses, offices and stores.

Local operators at 911 control rooms also will be able to better perceive the location of callers within those buildings, officials said, rather than see just an aerial image of the building.

Floor plans verified or created by Pure Wireless for 911 operators would show basics such as room or apartment numbers and the location of hallways, stairs, doors, windows, utility shutoff valves, fire extinguishers and defibrillators. Images will pinpoint which elevators go where rescuers need to go, and which ones are wide enough to transport gurneys. Then, operators will be able to brief responders about what they will be finding at the caller’s address, or operators can send responders their own electronic copy of the floor plan—ideal for responders who work in teams as drivers watch the road.

Operators also would be able to see right away that a confused caller with an illness or injury is, for example, at a home improvement store other than the one they thought; i.e., Lowe’s instead of Home Depot.

Officials say the technology fills a void. First responders in time-compressed movies and TV shows seem to know instinctively where victims are, while real-life rescuers often have to improvise and hope for the best. And that, authorities insist, wastes time and threatens lives. Pure Wireless founding leaders—CEO Elliott Singer and chief technical officer Dain Bolling, said their core business is helping cell phone users in big buildings get better connections, and helping first responders already inside buildings communicate with each other and with personnel and vehicles outside.

Singer and Bolling realized the opportunity to take the next step for public safety. They said their eyes were opened when told assisted- living facility (ALF) staffs have no way of knowing anything is wrong until they hear sirens out front; dispatchers with access to the new data will be able to alert staff at a condo or ALF that rescuers are en route to a certain residence, and to keep doorways and elevators clear. Meanwhile, trained staff can take first aid gear to the patient.

Singer and Bolling envision statewide and national expansions once the Collier County- wide network is up and running smoothly. “We want to do Collier right first,” said Singer. “We’re going to make Collier proud of us.”

Professionals contacted by The Naples Press were unanimous in their praise.

Bob Finney III, a third-generation law enforcement officer who is director of communications technology for the Sheriff’s Office, envisioned a “huge difference.”

A colleague, Capt. Chris Gonzalez, said the program can be a “huge deal” because rescuers work “kind of blind” and archives of floor plans are “non-existent.”

Gonzalez spoke from experience as a former road deputy—back in the days of folded paper maps—and current director of Collier’s 911 call center staff.

David Thomas, a Ph.D. and professor of criminal justice at Florida Gulf Coast University and a third-party expert in the field, said he has heard of the technology potential for years, but Collier is the first to put it to work. He called it “a tremendous boon.”

“You’d know what you’re walking into,” said the retired 20-year veteran of SWAT and hostage negotiations.

Saying the goal is all about reducing response times, Thomas, also an author and consultant, said floor plans would help first responders estimate how much backup is needed and where crime, medical and fire victims are likely to be.

Chris Byrne, Marco Island fire chief and current president of the countywide fire and EMS association, said the 911 enhancement would be a welcome addition to planning done by fire departments on strategies including access- egress points, fire alarms and fire pump/ hose connections.

Without advance knowledge, he said, responders can be “at a disadvantage for situational awareness.”

The groundwork, costs

Singer and Bolling told The Naples Press the cost of processing floor plans will be $500 per floor and $500 a year per building to keep diagrams and contact information updated for 911 dispatchers. The Pure Wireless leaders said they worked for months with the 911 team on map icons to designate stairwells, doors and more.

The 911 director, Bob Finney III, said the CCSO already ranks among the elite American law enforcement agencies for technology alongside San Diego; North Central Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; and Alexandria, Virginia.

“We like to make sure we have everything that’s out there,” Finney said, “and we push the vendors we already have to do better.”

Singer said he was told by the CCSO that the Pure Wireless program “is something we’ve always wanted.”

Finney, who welcomes questions at 239.252.9366, has provided Pure Wireless a formal letter on CCSO stationery to validate and endorse the program partnership as the company approaches owners and managers of big private buildings to subscribe. The letter’s main thrust is “saving precious minutes” to “improve outcomes and save lives,” wrote Finney.

The latter is a theme stated over and over by Singer and Bollin: “We are going to save lives.”

This story first ran in The Naples Press on Feb. 23.

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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