New technology is helping North Texas EMS operators to anticipate the number of 9-1-1 calls and where those calls will likely come from during bad weather. And ultimately, this is helping ambulances get to callers faster - sometimes within a few seconds.

Tarrant County's MedStar Emergency Medical Services is using this new weather map technology to improve ambulance response time. By showing where to expect most calls, MedStar dispatchers can better prepare for emergencies. They'll be able to put ambulances in places where the vehicles can get to the most calls the fastest. And by getting to patients faster, this should ultimately improve patient care.

MedStar spokeswoman Lara Kohl says the new system won't affect 9-1-1 callers, only the operators.

Users will call 9-1-1 as normal. Then a deployment monitor will review the call location and the available amulances in order to determine three ambulances that can get to the location the quickest. The three recommended ambulances will be listed in order of the fastest drive time. At that point, the dispatcher will be able to assign an ambulance to the call.

MedStar officials hope this will help them reach their goal of responding to the the highest priority calls - usually life threatening - in 9 minutes or less.

Kohl says the weather map is similar to the way MedStar would previously anticipate call locations. The main difference is that instead of calculating historical data by hand, the data is now calculated in real-time, minute-by-minute, by a computer. Using the same date during the previous year, the system analyzes data from 20 weeks before and 20 weeks after to calculate where the most 9-1-1 calls can be expected.

Then, a digital map is created showing the projected volume for different regions. The areas with anticipated high volume will be shown in dark purple and the areas with moderate demand will be shown in yellow. The map will automatically be updated every five minutes.

According to Kohl, the new map has been more helpful than MedStar expected. She says some of their ambulance units have been able to respond to calls within 4 seconds.