In 2017 SafeNest launched Project Safe 417, an innovative first responder partnership with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD). When an initial domestic violence call is received, the LVMPD alerts the 24/7 SafeNest hotline and requests first responder support. Immediately SafeNest dispatches a support advocate to report on scene. Survivors are provided with safety planning, information about community resources, and possible legal options. To date, nearly 8,000 survivors have received support in court and on-scene intervention through the Project Safe collaboration.
But not without a little technological support. Liz Ortenburger, chief executive director of SafeNest, saw that the need for SafeNest’s services was growing and that dispatching first responder support could be better coordinated. But she was unsure how. After a few internet searches, she found their answer, Trek Medics, the creator of Beacon, a mobile dispatch platform.
When LVMPD dispatchers call SafeNest, a call taker inputs information about the domestic violence call into a computer. The support advocates, who might be at home or on the road, receive an alert about the pending incident on their cellphones through Beacon. The app allows responders to assign themselves to a call and input updates that the hotline call taker can track from their computers, including when they arrive at a call, whether additional resources are needed, and when they leave a call.
Over the years, Project Safe 417 has gone from operating daily between 5 p.m. – 3 a.m. to now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “The responders are professional advocates, community volunteers, as well as interns from our local colleges here in Las Vegas. We are looking at 150 responders, keeping in mind that some volunteers may not be active as of now,” according to Jennifer Espinal, SafeNest Director of Crisis Advocacy.
Their dispatch team is also growing from 9 dispatchers to 13—as the trained dispatchers now field calls from Las Vegas Metro Dispatch, LVMPD officers, and local hospitals. The Beacon app allows the dispatchers to see which responders are available to go on location and who is the nearest to the incident.
When asked how many calls are dispatched through Beacon. Espinal responded, “It’s hard to say on average. For February, we had a total of 352 on-scene responses from Beacon. Overall, Beacon has allowed us to be more efficient with dispatching our volunteers and staff while maintaining contact with our advocate responders while still helping clients by phone.
How has the Beacon app been most instrumental for your organization? “It has allowed us to blanket more of the Las Vegas Area to get resources and support to our clients and our metro officers,” stated Espinal.
Indeed, the people of Las Vegas are benefitting from SafeNest’s commitment to eradicating domestic violence.