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By Jeff Paul

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Putting a priority on emergencies, Dallas Fire-Rescue just rolled out a new 911 system that it feels could help save lives.

Traditionally, when a person called 911 in Dallas and had a medical emergency, it was standard practice to send a paramedic, and it would not be uncommon for a fire truck to show up as well no matter the severity of the situation.

DFR is now using a new 911 system that helps get the proper response for the each situation. “We’re over triaging calls,” stated Assistant Chief Daniel Salazar. Operators on Tuesday started using a new Medical Priority Dispatch System.

ascreen Dallas Fire Rescue Rolls Out New 911 System

(credit: Jeff Paul/CBSDFW.COM)

When a call comes in, software utilizes an algorithm based on factors of the emergency, and suggests to 911 dispatchers what resources are needed. “It’d be nice if we could make requests for more ambulances, but that’s not necessarily the case. We’ve got limited budgets, so we know we have to get innovative,” said Salazar.

Instead of sending two highly-trained medics to a person who simply hurt their toe, DFR is now able to save that medical crew for high-priority calls, like a heart attack.

Salazar estimated that only 40 percent of their calls need transport. That injured toe might just get a local fire crew who can bandage things up at the scene. Salazar explained, “We’re keeping those precious resources in service until such time that they’re really needed.”

Plano has used a similar system since 2014. “That fact that we’re getting busier and busier, operating with essentially the same level of apparatus, it’s certainly helped keep our response times manageable,” said Chief Sam Greif of Plano Fire-Rescue.

Greif added that the system can also help cities save money on gas costs and maintaining wear and tear of trucks. Not that this is the goal, nor the priority. “I’m confident that it’s saved lives,” said Greif.

DFR stated that the new priority system is not a result of the slow or outright lack of response that the Dallas 911 call center experienced several months ago. The DFR dispatch center is a separate entity. Salazar said that DFR has wanted this system for years, and only now had the proper funding for the software.

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