Crisis Every 2 Minutes - @ JEMS.com


Crisis Every 2 Minutes

County 911 Official Talks About How They Strive To Get It Right


 
 

P.J. Reilly | | Tuesday, August 12, 2008


LANCASTER, Pa. -- On any given day last year, the Lancaster County-Wide Communications center handled 597 emergency 911 calls.

That's about 25 calls per hour, or one call every 2 1/2 minutes.

Those calls were handled by a staff of 66 call-takers and dispatchers who are intensively trained for about a year after they are hired, according to Tim Baldwin, deputy director of Lancaster County-Wide Communications.

In June, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency audited County-Wide Communications' training and quality-assurance programs and deemed the county exceeded state standards for training and met the standards for quality-assurance.

Baldwin said the county agency is proud of its performance, but he added there always is room for improvement.

"Obviously, you want perfection on every call," he said. "We want timely call-taking and timely dispatching on every call.

"Will we be able to do that on every call? I certainly hope so, but I know for sure that when we don't, we will take corrective measures."

According to Baldwin, corrective measures were taken after a 911 call was placed in the early morning hours of May 12, 2007, by a neighbor of Tom and Lisa Haines. The call was placed shortly after the Manheim Township couple and their 16-year-old son, Kevin, had been fatally stabbed.

Kevin's Manheim Township High School classmate, Alec Kreider, 17, pleaded guilty to the killings in June.

County officials said there was a delay of 3 minutes and 33 seconds from the time the call was placed and the time police were dispatched.

Also, the emergency call-taker who handled the 911 call never told the radio dispatcher an intruder might still be inside the Haineses' Blossom Hill home.

Baldwin declined to comment on the corrective measures the county took in this case, nor would he say if any employees were disciplined.

But he talked at length about how the county's quality-assurance program works.

According to Baldwin, the program begins when an employee is hired by the communications center.

That hiring kicks off a year of intensive training, which consists of classroom instruction, shadowing a full-time dispatcher and taking non-emergency calls.

"These people are evaluated every step of the way," Baldwin said. "This job isn't for everyone."

What the new employees are learning are the procedures and protocols for various types of emergency communications, which include 911 calls from the public and radio calls from police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service technicians.

Eventually, new employees begin handling 911 calls before they can be assigned a post as a radio dispatcher.

All year long, Baldwin said, County-Wide Communications directors randomly pick calls to review, and they discuss how dispatchers and call-takers handled them.

They also review the handling of calls on every "high-profile" emergency situation, such as a murder, large fire or major traffic accident, he said.

"What we do is we dissect that information and figure out what we did right, what we might have done wrong and what we need to do to correct the situation if we did something wrong," Baldwin said.

Corrective measures can be aimed at a specific dispatcher, or they can be incorporated into the center's overall training program.

Baldwin said the county recently upgraded its communications software to include a feature which could have avoided the problems with the Haines call.

With the upgrade, 911 call-takers now can communicate with dispatchers via computer while the call-taker is on the phone with the person calling for help.

Previously, Baldwin said, the call-taker had to terminate the 911 call before sending information to a dispatcher.

"It wasn't very user-friendly in that regard," he said.

While the upgrade has been made since the Haines family murders, Baldwin said the change was planned before the killings.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Communications and Dispatch, Training

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Advancement

This is the seventh year of the EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program, jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Salt Lake City Firefighters Injured in Firehouse Fire

Nine sent to a hospital with smoke inhalation.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Pennsylvania Paramedic Killed in the Line of Duty

West End Ambulance medic killed at accident scene.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wesleyan Students Hospitalized for Overdose

11 students transported to local hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Rigs Going in Service from EMS Today 2015

Snap shots of some of the vehicles at EMS Today that will be on the streets soon
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Florida Hospital Fire

Fire halts construction project at Tampa cancer center.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >