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Stories From Main Street: Jersey City EMS Uses Data To Predict Next Emergency

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - When the northbound Pulaski Skyway is shut down for two years starting on April 12, EMS dispatchers will be ready.

AS WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported, gridlock is expected right in front of the Jersey City Medical Center on Grand Street due to the roadway closure.

EMS dispatch uses color-coded maps to track and to anticipate emergency calls.

Stories From Main Street: Jersey City EMS Uses Data To Predict Next Emergency

"We implemented the system that looks at historical call data here in our EMS dispatch center to predict where it is that the next call is going to occur," EMS director Robert Luckritz told Adams.

The program is called MARVLIS, or Mobile Area Routing Vehicle Location Information System. Based on its predictions, ambulances are pre-positioned in different neighborhoods.

"Now that sounds pretty crazy. I had a hard time believing it but I'll tell you what, it's realistic. What we found is that people are creatures of habit," said Luckritz. "This particular system looks at a 2-hour block based on time of day, day of week and season and you find that people kind of do the same things at those different time periods."

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There are typically more calls downtown near the office tours during business hours and more emergencies in residential sections at night, he explained.

"We've actually been able to reduce our response time by 33 percent - by a third - by more than 3 minutes. Before we implemented this system, we were about the national average of about 9 minutes. Now, we're under 6 minutes," Luckritz told Adams. "It's really been miraculous what we've seen out of this."

If the Pulaski Skyway detours cause gridlock, Luckritz said they'll be ready for it.

"This is absolutely going to help us deal with the traffic from the Pulaski Skyway. We're going to have the ambulances closer to the emergency so while we might see a slight increase in our response times, we're going to be close enough to still be able to meet that life-threatening difference," he told Adams.

"We get there really quickly. A lot of times, we'll show up and they'll still be on the phone with our dispatchers," EMT Lacey Cook told Adams.

MARVLIS has been in use since 2007.

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