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New computer program helps Calif. dispatchers ask all the right questions

The county paid $125,000 to integrate a computer program designed to help better respond to law enforcement-related calls


By Bonnie Eslinger
San Jose Mercury News

SAN MATEO, Calif. — On any given day, San Mateo County emergency dispatchers handle hundreds of phone calls from residents with fire, medical, police and other concerns. The ability of any one call-taker to deftly respond to the myriad of emergencies and get necessary information from an often panicked caller leans heavily on the dispatcher's experience and training.

Now law enforcement dispatchers have a new tool at their disposal -- a computer program that offers a step-by-step sequence of questions developed for several dozen of the most common calls. A similar program is already used by dispatchers handling medical calls.

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