Lee Emergency Dispatch earns international distinction
Lee County’s Emergency Dispatch Center recently became the 126th accredited “Center of Excellence” internationally.
It received the certification by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch after completing a six-month audit of its 911 operators. It is one of 77 in the U.S. and 12 in Florida currently accredited.
“It’s improving patient care and maximizing the efficiency of our E911 system through a scientifically proven process,” said Bruce Dennington, telecommunications manager, in a prepared statement.
The process is driven by a computer program enabling identification of medical priorities. The program, called ProQA, starts the Medical Priority Dispatch System the moment the call is received. The ProQA program contains 34 chief complaint protocols, case entry and exit information, call termination scripts and additional verbatim instruction protocols for: AED support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, childbirth assistance, tracheotomy airway and breathing, and the Heimlich maneuver.
It’s a little different than what the public was accustomed to, explained Dennington. The operator asks specifically worded questions in a pre-determined order to give the patient the best possible results and the caller the most reassuring assistance in what is often a chaotic environment.
The scientifically determined questions appear on the telecommunicator’s screen based on the caller’s answers to each of the previous questions. The system automatically transfers the information to radio dispatchers, directing a field response range from a basic life support team to a full paramedic unit. Operators are not allowed to change more than two words on the screen, and only if the word changes have no effect on the meaning of the sentence.
Besides identifying who to send, the MPDS also determines if the emergency responders should travel with or without lights and sirens, and how many medical responders are needed.
Lee County Emergency Medical Services and two stations of the city of Fort Myers Fire Department are fully utilizing the program. According to the accrediting agency, the community served by the MPDS receives safer, more appropriate field responses with decreased bystander risk and a wise investment of tax dollars.
The MPDS is in part based on published standards by the National Association of EMS Physicians, ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and more than 20 years of research, development and field testing throughout the world. Special protocols for stroke identification, aspirin administration, pandemic flu triage and lost person locating are expected out this year.
Maintenance of the accreditation is biannual, but includes requirements for semi-annual compliance reports and 24 continuing education course credits from all 32 telecommunicators and dispatchers.
Accreditation is one of the most significant official recognitions of the Academy. Based on a total quality management process, dispatch and communications centers attain “Center of Excellence” designation by demonstrating superior performance in training, quality assurance and improvement processes, medical oversight, and compliance to protocol. Compliance scores of over 90 percent and 95 percent respectively are required in seven areas of interrogation, pre-arrival instructing and response coding.
The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch is the only organization dedicated to the professionalism, science, and standards of emergency dispatching.
Source: Lee County