The RedSky E911 Blog

Interview with a First Responder Series: Ed Lane

Interview with a First Responder Series: Ed Lane

Being a part of the tech industry, we are primed to accelerate toward the future.  We focus our vision on innovative products, and seek to become increasingly untethered by adopting all the cloud has to offer.  In the wake of these trends, however, it is easy to become swept up in the excitement of production, of moving forward, of progress.  It can become second nature to shift wholly toward our advancement, and forget to remind ourselves of why we work so hard to produce the technology we do.  

 

By reaching out to first responders, we are hoping to reconnect to our original mission, and illuminate the importance of emergency preparedness.  The act of grounding our innovations in real people, and learning from them exactly what is necessary in emergency situations, propels us to sharpen our focus and continue developing the most dynamic E911 solutions on the market.  

 

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ed Lane, the father of Katie Lane, RedSky’s Northeast Regional Sales Director.  From the moment you begin a conversation with Ed, you are greeted with his lighthearted demeanor and good sense of humor.  However, with over twenty-five years of firefighting, and first response experience, the conversation naturally struck a more serious tone at times. Talking with Ed often made us laugh, but more importantly he allowed us to reflect on what we do at RedSky, where we can go from here, and how the tech industry plays a vital role in the future of emergency preparedness. 

 

Meeting Ed  

Chelsea: 

Can you begin by describing yourself a little bit, the environment you work in, what kind of first responder you were, and how long you’ve been a first responder? 

 

Ed: 

Got in the Coast Guard in ‘73.  In the early ‘80s got into doing volunteer firefighting, because the Coast Guard lives in the community for the most part.  They were having trouble during the day getting enough people if there was a call.  So, the Chief asked the group commander for help, and a bunch of us volunteered to do it.  Bounced around a bunch of times in the military. When we could, when I could, I tried to stay involved on the fire side, because it was something to do for the community that we were moving into, and a way to sort of meet people.  Stationed here in (small town), and got on their department.  Katie, at that point, was in middle school… decided that we really liked the community, shortest station we had.  It was 15 months, and we got transferred.  Two years later, I had my twenty years and they wanted me to stay, but didn’t want to keep Katie there because of the way the school system was, so we came back here for her four years of high school.  I immediately got back into the department, by that time I’d also gotten into EMS.  While away, I’d run with (local county) for two years, then came back here and ran for over 25.  Then had a cancer problem, couldn’t keep up the fire EMS, but stayed in Fire Police doing scene safety and stuff like that, and still trying to do it now. Does that pretty well cover it? 

 

Chelsea: 

Yeah, definitely, definitely.  I feel it’s a testament of how much you like it to stay after being removed from the front line of action.

 

Ed: 

Oh, I can still get into trouble, believe me. [laughing]

 

Katie: And he can’t sit still, so good luck making them try to stop him. 

 

Ed: 

Well, it’s something I can do for the community that’s accepted me and my family.  That’s a very big thing, even though Katie never wants to come back!  It got her through high school well, got her in good shape to move on, and for the first time after twenty years in the military, my wife and I feel like we belong somewhere.  So, this is our way of giving back. 

 

Ed Impresses the General Importance of Automatic Location Information

Chelsea:

Could you talk about your experiences, or difficulties, locating people in rural areas when there’s not access to exact coordinates?  If someone’s out in the middle of a field and you need to go find them, how is that even possible? 

 

Ed: 

Yeah, it’s not terribly uncommon, for an incident on I-95, to be dispatched to the same mile marker on 295 or 395 or vice versa.  Because people are unfamiliar with where they’re at, finding people is a real problem.  I’ve been dispatched to a lot of calls where the caller does not know where they are, and the ability to find them is more reliant on having some local knowledge, us and them, trying to say, “Oh, I know where that set of rocks is that sounds familiar, or I know where so and so house is, or a house number that’s such and such that looks like this.  

 

Chelsea: 

Would you say regardless of rural or urban environment that oftentimes people can’t provide an exact address for where they are? 

 

Ed: 

Yes!  A perfect example: E911 systems nationwide call for every piece of property to be distinctively numbered, or distinctively labeled, so they can keep track of it.  So you get a camp down on (local road) for two weeks during the summer, it’s nice to be able to say, “Yes, I’m at such and such (local road)”.  Fact of the matter is, most people don’t even know.  They find the place, they park their car, they enjoy the water, they enjoy the weather, and when it hits the fan, they don’t have a clue where they’re at.  If you call in, and we can’t tell where your phone is, it becomes extremely difficult to find you. 

 

Chelsea: 

Right, right, I’m sure.

 

Ed: 

So, physical location would be a big help, and it’s information the dispatchers need.

 

Ed Discusses Roadblocks to Location Identification, Finding People in Large Buildings, and the Importance of Simultaneous Notification Systems

Chelsea:

Have you ever been dispatched, or not dispatched somewhere that you need to be, on account of errors in phone numbers and where they’re linked to? 

 

Ed: 

Well, you take a large company like, oh I don’t know, let’s say Dell, alright?  And their executives are issued company phones.  Why carry two cell phones if you’ve got the company phone with you when you’re traveling?  Yet, that’s going to have a Dell number, that’s going to [convey] the Dell location [rather than the caller’s location], because that’s where it’s registered.  

 

Chelsea:

You talked a little bit about (a local business), and you were saying that you ran into some problems trying to get to callers that were located inside of that building?  

 

Ed: 

Yep, and that’s a relatively small industrial operation!  They have an order fulfillment center, which for this area is a humongous building, a large warehouse, and they’ve divided it into north and south.  But, then there are divisions and departments and everything else, as well as supplies and trucking and it’s spread all over the building.  So, if somebody calls [9-1-1], they get security, using the (local business’s) system, and security then calls and sends a runner to find out where this person is.  And they know where they’re working, but we’ve got to get to the building, determine which entrance to use, have somebody from security to let us in, and then get escorted to wherever this location is.  

 

Chelsea:

Right, right.  And with that added layer of security, that extra step, I would imagine that increases the delay in reaching the emergency situation?

 

Ed:

It very definitely does.  And I’m not saying this is a negative… They have a system in place to protect themselves, I can’t blame them.  But, that delays the time it takes to get to our dispatcher, which is a lead time problem.  And then of course, dispatch has got to follow the same protocols, get the information as much as they can, which is also part of the problem, and then dispatch us to a hopefully right location.  As you can well understand, the old school game about starting a story on one end of a circle and having to go all the way around and see what you ended up with on the other end? 

 

Chelsea: 

Yeah, yep!

 

Ed:  

Same every time you put another person in the loop.

 

Chelsea:

A little bit gets distorted…

 

Ed:  

A little bit gets distorted, gets lost, gets dropped… I mean that’s just the way it works, nature of the beast.  We complain a lot of times from our end, from a responder standpoint about dispatch information, dispatch location, fact of the matter is they don’t get it right half the time anyway. You get off on scene, when you find it, and the scene’s different, the problem is different, the nature of the incident, all of that, and that’s because of the information that’s given to them, and they try to relay to the best of their ability.  So direct connection to dispatch cuts the lag, however, security does need to know, so they need to be somehow at least involved in the loop, being able to listen to it, so they also know what’s going on, so they can also put their protocols in place, and I’m going to say simultaneously.  That’s the only way you get rid of the delay. 

 

Chelsea:

Right, right.  So, having it all happen simultaneously would be the solution to that? 

 

Ed:  

Yes, very definitely.  

 

About RedSky

This is the first of a three part series in which we discuss the importance of emergency preparedness with Ed Lane.  Many of the issues Ed discussed above can be solved by implementing an E911 solution.  If you have any questions about how you and your company can benefit from automatic location information, proper routing, and sophisticated notification systems, contact us at RedSky.  We are the leading provider of on-premise and cloud-based E911 solutions with more customers, more technology, and more experience than any other provider.  Our technology Finds, Routes, and Notifies in the case of any 9-1-1 call from your enterprise.   

 

 

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