Charleston County Council tomorrow will vote on whether to spend $3.4 million on a new alerting system that could cut by 15 to 30 seconds the time it takes fire fighters and EMS workers to respond to an emergency call, says Jim Lake, director of the Consolidated Dispatch Center.

The system also would improve the working conditions and health of emergency workers by targeting dispatches to the specific stations that will respond to them, instead of putting out all calls on a radio system, he said.

Council’s Finance Committee approved the purchase Thursday with a 5-4 vote, but the full council must vote in favor of the plan before it can move forward.

The system would save time by automating some of the steps employees who answer 911 calls now must do to dispatch fire, EMS and rescue services, Lake said.

John Tippett, deputy chief of operations for the Charleston Fire Department, said that while 15 to 30 seconds may not sound like much time, it could mean the difference between a positive or negative outcome in an emergency. For instance, he said, a person experiencing cardiac arrest will suffer irreversible brain damage in four to six minutes. In such a case, 30 seconds could make a big difference, he said.

Read more in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier. Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.