On August 19, 2021, REMSA Health hosted Jerry Overton, President of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. In addition to visiting with employees that comprise our Regional Emergency Communications Center, Mr. Overton spoke to a group of invited guests including regional first response partners, physicians, EMS oversight, regional dispatch center managers, as well as elected and appointed officials about the state of emergency dispatch for medical, fire and law enforcement agencies.
When someone calls 9-1-1, they are often experiencing the worst day of their life. From a stroke or heart attack to domestic violence or burglary, from an automobile accident or a house fire to a frightened new parent whose infant has a fever in the middle of the night, citizens rely on the expertise and consistency of a protocol-driven emergency dispatch program for medical, police, fire, and nurse triage. The IAED provides a structured and standardized set of procedures that reduce the complexity and risk of an emergency situation. However, it’s also important to mention that many people misuse the 9-1-1 system, requesting an emergency response for something that is not an emergency. It is estimated that between thirty and forty percent of all 9-1-1 calls are for first-aid level care and non-emergent public safety inquiries. The IAED can help with situations like that as well – prioritizing and navigating callers ensures that a community’s first response resources are preserved for true emergencies.
Highlights from the Community Conversation with Jerry Overton
Red Lights and Sirens
The majority of medical patients accessing 911 do not benefit from the minimal time savings produced by red lights and sirens responses. Additionally, red lights and siren responses significantly increase vehicle accidents within a community and among emergency responders. EMS and fire agencies across the country – and in our community – are working to reduce the overall number of red lights and sirens responses.
Advances in caller location identification and video caller interrogation/patient assessment will bring new efficiencies and situational awareness into the dispatch center. Cellular device-based location can identify a caller’s exact location, similar to Uber or Lyft, and can automatically dial 911 if a fall or lack of user movement is detected. Emergency call-takers can now see the scene of the crime, the building on fire, or the medical patient. This presents a new paradigm for understanding and care for dispatcher mental health.
Proper Caller Navigation
When someone calls 911, they have a problem that needs solved; however, that problem may not be an emergency. In law enforcement, the caller may need someone to take a report of a crime, but there is not an immediate danger. For medical calls, the caller needs to be navigated to appropriate level of care, which may be their primary care doctor, telehealth, urgent care, or an emergency ambulance. There is no such thing as an inappropriate request, there is such a thing as an inappropriate response.
Partnerships with Social Services (ie: 988)
In August 2019, the FCC adopted 988 as the designated phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health resources. 988 calls will be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline beginning July 16, 2022. Using 988 as an easy-to-remember number (it will be the 911 for mental health crisis interventions) will reduce stigma and make it easier for Americans in a mental health crisis to access the help they need.
Learn more about how Care Starts with the Call and what sets apart REMSA Health’s Regional Emergency Communications Center – which is an Accredited Center of Excellence by the IAED – from other dispatch centers.