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E-911 acquires new emergency medical dispatch program

By Alicia B. Hill
Times-News

During the Troup County Board of Commissioners work session on Thursday, the county revealed plans to adopt an Emergency Medical Dispatch program for all Troup County E-911 dispatchers.

According to a press release from the county, the program will allow trained dispatchers to give scripted medical instructions to the public in certain emergency situations and to quickly determine the nature and priority of emergency calls to ensure proper dispatching.

“[EMD] is basically a set of pre-arrival instructions,” said Jason Lawson, Troup County E-911 Director. “If somebody calls 911 with chest pains, various other types of calls — under the medical direction of Dr. [Gary] Solt — we are allowed to give some pre-arrival instructions before the ambulance gets there.”

The program is based on the standard curriculum for the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and is designed to contribute to public safety efforts by providing additional pre-arrival instruction capabilities to dispatchers and ensuring resource allocation through the prioritization of dispatching appropriate medical response units.

“The key to this is the increase in service to our citizens,” LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar said. “In the city, it takes somewhere between four and six minutes to get a paramedic at that location. Those four to six minutes can determine whether or not someone survives that call or if they are impaired the rest of their lives because of brain damage. What this program will do is provide medical intervention that insures that things are being done before that medical assistance arrives.”

Upon completion of training, the E-911 agency will have trained telecommunicators on staff that will have the ability to use guide cards quickly and efficiently in order to determine the nature and priority level of the emergency call, dispatch the appropriate response and give proper instructions over the phone until help arrives.

Additionally, in cases where officers arrive before medical personnel, the program could provide needed information to the officers providing lifesaving services until EMTs arrive.

“All of our patrol guys carry an emergency response bag, and inside that bag and AED, a stop the bleed kit, tourniquets and Narcan. As we move forward, we are going to put more things in there,” Sgt. Stewart Smith said.

“We wanted to pitch in support for this because our guys — they don’t respond to every medical call. … That would certainly provide information for our guys rolling in.”

According to information from both the meeting and the press release, the program uses all American Society for Testing and Materials and NHTSA standards and guidelines, and it will be taught by a certified in-house instructor, which will save the county money on implementing the program.

In order to complete the training, dispatchers will be required to complete a 32-hour online course which includes no less than 24 hours of EMD classroom training and 8 hours of guide card practical training, along with practical and written exams.

Topics included in the training include EMD roles and responsibilities; legal and liability issues in EMD; national and state standards for EMD; resource allocation; layout and structure of the APCO Institute EMD guide cards; obtaining information from callers; anatomy and physiology; chief complaint types; quality assurance and recertification; and stress management.

Dekmar said that he has been asking for the training for 15 years, and County Manager Eric Mosley worked to make it possible.

Dekmar also noted that by prioritizing true emergencies, the training could potentially save lives that could be lost in collisions between emergency vehicles and citizen vehicles at intersections.

According to the press release, Troup County E-911 expects to have all training completed by fall 2019. According to Mosley, the City of LaGrange will help fund the program.

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