Methods for Allocating Urban Emergency Units

by Jan M. Chaiken, Richard C. Larson

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A survey of current research on the allocation of municipal emergency service systems, with the emphasis on police patrol cars and fire engines and ladders. The aspects of allocation policy discussed are (1) determining the number of units (vehicles) needed on duty in each geographical area at different times of the day or week, (2) selecting the unit(s) to respond to a particular incident, (3) determining the locations or patrol areas for the units on duty and designing patrol coverage patterns, and (4) deciding when units should be redeployed to improve service in areas where a large number of units are temporarily busy. The report describes both traditional rules of thumb for allocation and newer quantitative methods based on queueing theory, geographical models, and simulation models.

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