Chatham Emergency Services ambulance

A Chatham Emergency Services ambulance at St. Joseph's/Candler Hospital in Savannah. Officials say they are working on a fix to the thousands of addresses not properly mapped in the new dispatch system.

Credit: Justin Taylor / The Current

Jake Shore, The Current

Chatham County officials say that ambulances will be able to navigate to all county addresses accurately by “early next week.”

Thousands of addresses were not correctly linked to the mapping software as part of emergency services’ $6 million dispatch upgrade last fall, The Current reported earlier this week. As a result, ambulance operators have been forced to use Google Maps to get to emergency scenes, potentially slowing their responses.

In a statement on Friday, county officials updated their progress and revealed that the scope of the problem was larger than previously known.

At the start of February, approximately 3,000 addresses were not properly linked to the mapping software provided by CentralSquare Technologies, according to a county spokesperson. When The Current first reached out near the end of February, that number was around 2,200.

“County and CentralSquare staff have been actively updating this, and all addresses will be mapped in the routing tool with an update being pushed to the system early next week,” the statement said.

Until this week, none of this information was known to the public — only between some county and emergency officials. After the initial article published on Monday, a public relations firm on behalf of CentralSquare said the addressing issues had nothing to do with its software but did not explain how.

Officials stress that the county addresses are in the mapping software, but that routing ambulances to those addresses is where the trouble lies. Because the addresses were improperly mapped in the new CAD system, ambulances were sent to the closest road, not the accessible roads that ambulances needed to get to the emergency. 

At the monthly commissioner’s meeting on Friday, Chairman Chester Ellis said the county is taking the issue seriously. He said the systemic change of emergency dispatch and rewriting of protocols does not happen overnight and there will be temporary issues like this.

“What we ask the public to do,” he told a reporter Friday, “is be patient with us.”

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with The Current.