Missoula Emergency Services recently received a $1,890 grant from MF Global to overhaul the software used in emergency response vehicles. When the new software goes live at the end of March, it will allow responders to discover en rout, the layout of commercial buildings in a vastly faster way than they are use to.

"When fire inspectors go out, here in the city or in the county to look at businesses, they come back and they draw up floor plans or [write down] information about where utility shutoffs are," said Missoula City/County Office of Emergency Services Director Chris Lounsbury. "[When the software is in place] they'll actually be able to pull that up in the fire truck and they'll have that information when they go in. Right now, what they do, is they pull out big printed books and they flip through pages and pages and pages to get that information."

The information is expected to help personnel quell fires faster and prevent hazards from utilities in commercial buildings. Even though fire marshals don't survey private homes in the same way, there is a way citizens can put their info into the hands of first responders.

"Go to Smart911.com," Lounsbury said. "Missoula County is a participating area. It allows you to create a little account there, put in your address, and then any information you feel it would be important to share with responders. And the only time they get to see that is when you dial 911, from a phone that's associated with that account. It's displayed with dispatchers here in the 911 center and they can share that information with responders out in the field"

The software is designed by New World systems, and is already in use in Billings, Great Falls, and Flathead County.