Punta Gorda improving dispatch times with updated call system

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When you dial 911, you expect to get help on the other end of the line, but Punta Gorda is worried it might not be able to keep up with the growing city’s needs.

Dispatchers in Punta Gorda still use flip cards, so when they get an emergency call they have to look through those cards to figure out how to respond.

People who live there said they had no idea that’s how it worked.

“I’m quite shocked actually, it’s a big surprise it really is…it sounds like they need an update,” said one resident of Punta Gorda.

of course they were all happy to hear the department wants to make the switch to a computer based system to guide dispatchers on how to direct each call.

The center does their best to help first responders and the community, but as the population grows, the outdated card system just won’t cut it. Plus, there is only 10 full time dispatchers.

With this new software, instructions for those dispatchers and the questions they need to ask will pop up right on a screen.

The 911 center is just now making these changes because the center in Charlotte County that often works with Punta Gorda has offered to pay the start up cost software, which is about $61,000.

“We have EMS out quite often because I’m in an over 55 community and it does take them 15-20 minutes as it is right now to get there.. a police officer told us an updated system would help them get there faster,” said Diane Houston, a Punta Gorda dispatcher.

If approved, the city would still be on the line for the maintenance and future costs like training.

They estimate that will cost about $6,800 a year.

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