Aid agreement to improve response times

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Leander is now part of an emergency services network that could decrease crisis response times by up to six minutes in some areas of the city. The Automatic Aid Agreement between the City of Leander and Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 for fire service and major event responses was approved by the Leander City Council in a unanimous vote Nov. 3. The network could be operational in less than two months, according to Leander Fire Chief Bill Gardner.

“Rapid growth has created a situation where no one has enough resources by themselves to manage major events and calls for service,” Gardner said. “This agreement allows resources to flow without worrying about boundaries.”

When a citizen calls 9-1-1, he said, they are not worried about what unit or department is responding, but rather just that someone is there as quickly as possible to offer assistance. The arrangement is an interlocal cooperation agreement under Texas Government Code 791 designed to improve the coordination of emergency assistance and to provide for automatic assistance when responding to fires, medical emergencies, hazardous materials incidents, rescue situations and other types of emergencies that are within the standard scope of services provided by fire departments.

“There is the potential with the agreement, especially in the north Lake Travis area, to reduce that response time by a total of about six minutes from the time it is called through,” Gardner said. “This will allow one center to use the computer-aided dispatch automatically.”

Williamson County Emergency Operations will serve as the centralized dispatch for calls for automatic aid, he said. Currently, a dispatch center has to seek authorization to call for assistance from area departments, a time delay that could cost several minutes in response time.

According to city documents, future agreements with other emergency service districts and neighboring cities are anticipated. Linking the five-county region served by the Capitol Area Council of Governments, including Williamson, Travis, Burnet, Llano, Blanco, Hays, Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee counties, is under consideration, Gardner said.

“During major events, this would allow for a rapid response,” he said. “We’re already moving forward, and this could be up and running in the next 40 days.”

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