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How fast can 911 get to you? The answer is changing in Lexington County

How fast can 911 get to you? New system in Lexington County will affect that

A new 911 system in Lexington County will prioritize more urgent calls and direct ambulance responses.
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A new 911 system in Lexington County will prioritize more urgent calls and direct ambulance responses.

Ambulance workers in Lexington County will be getting to some calls faster – and to others, slower – due to a new 911 system being rolled out.

The dispatch system, called “ProQA,” aims to standardize questions that dispatchers ask callers, and direct emergency responders to more urgent calls first. This is a change from the previous way of handling things, where 911 calls were addressed in the order they were received, officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

What does this mean for a caller? For those suffering from emergencies such as a heart attack, officials say the system will save precious seconds and get an ambulance there more quickly. Those who call with what the system classifies as less urgent matters, such as the common cold or flu symptoms, will have to wait longer.

This is an effort to address a continuous increase in call volume. Responders have seen a 20 percent increase in scene calls over the past five years, according to numbers from the county.

Right now, every call is responded to with lights and sirens. Starting in August, that will change, officials said.

“I don’t want to ever say that we’re going to screen out any calls – because every call is important and we’re going to respond accordingly to every call,” Lexington County Public Safety Director David Kerr said. “It just ... may not be immediate.”

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