Excerpts from the chicgaotribune.com:

The Elgin Fire Department’s 911 notification system to alert firefighters to calls, is becoming automated. The software and hardware improvements will get call information to firefighters seconds earlier. Elgin’s seven fire stations receive more than 12,000 dispatch calls a year.

When someone makes a 911 call, a tele-communicator enters the location and nature of the incident into a computer-aided dispatch system and then manually alerts the fire stations by setting off an alarm and giving a verbal dispatch over the radio with details on the nature and location of the incident.

While the tele-communicator is getting information, he or she may have to mute the emergency call to start the alert process, which can cause callers to hang up or get upset about having to wait.

It’s also a problem when call takers need to perform multiple tasks, like assisting callers with basic first aid instructions, and can’t always put callers on hold during those critical moments in order to enter information into the alert system.

Using the automated system, operators essentially click a button and a computer voice will alert fire stations and dispatch firefighters. The 911 operators will be able to stay on the call to get more information.

Monitors will be in stations to provide visual cues when a call is received as lights will flash to let firefighters know the type of emergency, which will give them more time to respond.

Elgin is receiving a $20,000 donation for the interfacing software from the Village of South Elgin, which gets 911 dispatch services from Elgin, and the remaining $5,000 will be paid by the city of Elgin.

The $445,000 cost of the software will be funded through the area’s E-911 Emergency Telephone System. The purchases will save the department about $375,000 over a five-year period.

The Elgin City Council approved both expenditures Wednesday. The system should be operating by 2020.