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Firefighters use iPad for 911 calls

Batavia, N.Y. -- These days, computer tablets are a favorite form of entertainment, but thats not all. The City of Batavia Fire Department is now using iPads to lead firefighters in the right direction.

Lt. Robert Fix trains firefighters on the iPad. He said it lets them retrieve information and directions directly from dispatchers through an app called Active911.

It lets the officer spend more time eyes forward sizing up the scene as he approaches (the scene), then trying to flip through a map book, Fix said.

He added the iPad is also very helpful in the winter time when fire hydrants in the city can be covered under snow.

We can see where the fire hydrant locations are as well as overlay pictometry over the top so you can see where it is in relation to an actual building or street corner, Fix said.

Firefighters can also identify hazardous materials through an app that will also give fire officials evacuation procedures for affected areas.

Theres even an app that shows firefighters where they should cut through a car when extricating a passenger.

Fire Chief Jim Maxwell said it will also come in handy for everyday tasks like building inspections. The fire department also said its building records will be compiled into computer files on the iPad.

Once they get used to it and acclimated to it, I think it'll be a benefit for the fire department as well as the city as a whole, said Maxwell.

The City of Batavia Fire Department said it will especially be helpful for that caller on the other line.

When somebody calls 911, it's the worst day of their life, and we're here to make that better and to help mitigate the situation, said Fix.

The fire department currently has one iPad that cost $1000. The department hopes to get six more iPads for the rest of its vehicles.

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Washington Times