Mat-Su Borough launches services to improve emergency response

Central MatSu Fire Department firefighters respond to a call.
Central MatSu Fire Department firefighters respond to a call.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:01 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Mat-Su Borough is rolling out tools for the public to help improve response times to emergencies in the valley.

One program, Community Connect, provides a way for residents to provide information about their homes that can help in situations such as house fires. Another, Smart 911, allows people to provide important medical information such as allergies and medication needs to first responders for situations where a person is not able to communicate that information.

“In an emergency, we say it all the time, seconds count,” Brian Davis, deputy director of Fire for the Mat-Su Borough said. “A fire can double in intensity every minute or two, smoke is building up in a house constantly, and literally we play a game of time, everything we’re doing is against the clock, and the more we can do on the front end to save time and get into that residence faster to get occupants out or mitigate that emergency, the better the outcome is for everybody.”

The programs are voluntary and Davis says the information people submit is kept private, and only accessible to first responders on a call.

“It lets responders know the type of information we usually have to spend a few minutes on the scene gathering from occupants, and if occupants aren’t there, we wouldn’t have access to that information,” Davis said. “It’s good to put in especially if you have residents in your home who have unique problems, mobility issues who would need assistance getting out in an emergency. If you have children in the home and where their bedrooms are. Things like building access, if you have a door to the basement on a backside of the buildings. Things that will help us to get to areas where the fire might be faster. Pets and livestock concerns; solar panels on a roof; where your utility shutoffs are. Those are important so we can shut off gas and electric once we arrive on scene.”

Although the program is new to the borough, Davis said it’s proven to work well in many other parts of the country.

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