In an emergency situation, when seconds can mean the difference between life and death, knowledge can be the most valuable tool.
The Bowling Green Fire Department, with the help of city residents, is increasing its knowledge capacity by inviting residents to share information about their household through Community Connect.
The Community Connect platform is part of the incident navigation software program the BGFD bought last year that stores basic information about addresses in the city.
That information is collected from sources such as previous fire department inspections, county property valuation administrator’s office records and real estate sites such as Zillow, BGFD Chief Jason Colson said.
The BGFD has plenty of data on hand about local businesses, but information about individual residences is not as readily available.
Community Connect, however, allows residents to go online and submit more specific information about their households, such as whether there are any people with special needs or pets living there.
Such information can be crucial for firefighters traveling to an unfamiliar location.
“When we get a call for that address, that information is going to pop up on their screen in the truck and let them know what special circumstances exist in that location,” Colson said.
Community Connect users create a free, password-protected account and are able to enter as much information as they like for the fire department’s use.
Other information that can be helpful to firefighters that can be entered on Community Connect include family emergency contacts, whether the residence is equipped with sprinklers and whether a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 or is at high risk of contracting the virus.
Information provided on each residential profile is secure and will be used only in responding to emergencies.
Before making Community Connect available, the software the fire department had been using provided firefighters with a wealth of information about several locations in the city.
Colson said having visual aids has been especially helpful for first responders.
“When they’re leaving the station, they’re seeing the type of place they’re responding to, where the front door is, they can generally identify which side the kitchen is on, they’re getting a ton of information they normally wouldn’t get until they pull up,” Colson said. “That can help us identify access points, where we need to go to set up our ladders, how much hose we need to stretch ... it puts tools in the hands of our responders to help improve their chances of a successful outcome.”
– To access Community Connect, visit communityconnect.io/info/ky-bowlinggreen.