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What is EMD?
Medical Emergencies are some of the most serious calls taken in the dispatch center. Time is often critical. What happens in the time the caller dials 9-1-1 until an ambulance arrives on scene can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) is the bridge for the caller between their 9-1-1 phone call and the arrival of on-scene responders.

RRRDC uses “The National Academy EMD Protocol Medical Priority Dispatch System”. In following these EMD protocols we ensure that all dispatchers effectively evaluate the medical situation by following a questioning protocol. This questioning protocol allows the dispatcher to send the appropriate resource which provides better care for the patient and safety for those who are responding. EMD also provides life saving instructions, whether it is giving simple airway maintenance instruction, controlling bleeding, delivering a baby or CPR instruction.

The history of EMD
The first recorded EMD call was in 1974 in Phoenix Arizona. A paramedic was able to successfully deliver CPR instructions to the family of a child who drowned in a swimming pool. By 1978, the Medical Priority Company had produced a product for dispatchers to follow to give medical instructions. It was not until 1989 that EMD was formally recognized as an integral component of emergency medical services. In the 1990’s EMD really came of age; The television show “Rescue 911″ raised the public expectation of 9-1-1 and what type of care would be provided when they call.

Is there any special training a dispatcher needs in order to be an EMD?
Before any dispatcher is allowed to take medical calls at RRRDC, that dispatcher must attend a certification course and become CPR certified. The course consists of 24 hours of classroom and practical training. Once the dispatcher is EMD certified, they need to complete an additional 24 hours of training every 2 years and maintain their CPR certification in order to maintain their EMD certification.

How do I know if it is a medical emergency and I should dial 9-1-1?
The signs and symptoms of a medical emergency can be vague or unusual. If you THINK you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency call 9-1-1 immediately. You should never be afraid to dial 9-1-1 just because you are unsure if a real emergency exists. Do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher help you in times of confusion or doubt.

What questions will I be asked when I dial 9-1-1 in a medical emergency?

To ensure that the right people with the right equipment are sent to the correct location, the dispatcher must ask you specific questions. It is important to remember that trained dispatchers never ask questions that are unnecessary, and that all of the questions being asked help to determine the level of help that you need.

On all EMD calls you will be asked a set of questions known as Entry Questions.
– What’s the address of the emergency?
– What’s the phone number you’re calling from?
– What’s the problem – tell me exactly what happened?
– How old is he or she?
– Is he or she conscious?
– Is he or she breathing?

By answering these questions, the dispatcher is able to determine the chief complaint such as chest pain or breathing problems. At this point the dispatcher will ask you a second series of short questions unique to your situation which will determine if the ambulance will be responding with lights and sirens and if they will need any special equipment once they arrive on scene.

In all cases, remember the most important thing you can do when calling 9-1-1 is to LISTEN CAREFULLY and REMAIN CALM. Always do whatever the dispatcher asks you to do. Every question asked is part of their protocol and has an important reason.

EMD Quality Assurance

EMD is not always easy; it takes training and practice. Red River Regional Dispatch Center wants all of its employees to do a good job with EMD. As a result, a quality assurance process was implemented to maintain continuous feedback. Supervisors listen to and evaluate EMD calls and are able to give feedback to employees about areas they are doing well in and ways to improve their service to the community that we serve.