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Dispatchers with Medical training

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  • Dispatchers with Medical training

    I work for a combined Urban Fire and EMS department. 911 is called and your asked if you need PD, FD or EMS and then the call is transferred to where its needed. Once it gets to the EMS side, things go downhill.

    A lot of us state that our since our dispatchers have very little ems training(they are hired off the streets and given training that is stated to be close to what a EMD dispatcher gets...and I want to stress the "close" part of it that they are supposed to get since it seems that they get close to nothing) that they are horrible dispatchers. And they are...I believe that they are rewarded for fast dispatching, not accurate dispatching.

    Anyways, the debate put forth against giving them more training or hiring medically trained people is that studies out there show that by having medically trained dispatchers, that patient outcome worsens due to the dispatchers triaging according to what they think is the issue, not how it should be properly dispatched.

    Does anyone know of any studies out there regarding having trained dispatchers vs untrained and patient outcomes? I did a search but all that I found was a 1987 study out in Long Beach, California.

    The other arguement I have heard is the liability of having someone medically trained dispatching and having a mistake made.

    Thanks for any help
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

    "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

  • #2
    Most studies related to dispatch I've seen were published by Jeff Clawson of the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

    http://naemd.org/ Click the science tab.

    And as far as the bad patient outcomes are concerned, there are a plethora of variables here. Are the bad outcomes related to dispatcher inaction (no pre-arrival instructions), mistriage (ALS should have been sent HOT vs BLS cold), improper instructions, etc...

    I can tell you that NAEMD's argument is that a standardized protocol that is written so that the dispatcher doesn't have to think; when followed properly, works every time. All they have to do is listen to symptoms...ie. Dispatchers wouldn't send BLS to a persistent indigestion call because according to the protocol epigastric abdominal pain is an ALS response. All of the bad outcomes referenced in my EMD class were the result of a complete lack of protocols. One agency (Dallas or Houston) was using nurses at the time. Nurse refused to send paramedics because patient wouldn't come to the phone (rather couldn't, because they were ALOC).
    Last edited by Buttonmasher ; 11-05-2014, 08:30 AM.


    • #3

      If these dispatchers are trained to "EMD" standards to that of a National Academies of Emergency Dispatch trained dispatcher then they would have card sets to do the work for them...If they do not have the card sets then they are not close to being EMD trained. Even though the car sets do most of the work and take majority of the thinking away, you still have to decipher the emergency, choose the proper nature protocol, ask correct questions, and issue proper dispatch protocols...
      National Academies of Emergency Dispatch is made to follow these card sets and alleviate all liability from the dispatch center. We have a few paramedics who tend to fall back on their medical training and not emergency medical dispatch training....this sometimes causes a problem but is quickly adjusted when the dispatch commander does quality service checks.
      My solution- make this situation aware to whomever needs to know...these is a huge liability for that agency, and depending how the court proceedings go, your agency. They need to be certified in their prospective fields in order to be giving quality dispatch.


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