Humans or Toys…Who (or what) is Driving EMS?

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Articles & Columns

“What happened to the days when certain key words or phrases, like “difficulty breathing,” led to an immediate dispatch of resources with one hand while the phone was still in the other?”

Sad, but that is a question I never imagined having to ask. My roots in EMS date back to wooden planks with clips and note-paper; that’s how calls were taken and dispatched. Dispatchers listened to what callers had to say and quickly put pieces together.

I remember a time when, late at night, sitting in the dispatch center, a call would come in and in just a sentence or two, the dispatcher would give me the high sign and tell me to start heading over to wherever the call was coming from. We didn’t need any more information than that to get rolling. The rest would come on the way – or it wouldn’t. Provided there was no immediate safety concern, what difference did it make whether it was a chest pain or an unconscious? We would be the unit sent either way and we would deal with whatever we found when we got there.

Just recently, a story came out about how dispatchers at the LAFD are too slow when it comes to directing 911 callers to begin CPR. The story was picked up by print, Internet and television news outlets from all over the U.S., and it even created some talk radio buzz. The department cited software issues as the reason.

Read the piece for yourself and you decide: Is technology driving EMS in a wrong direction?

Read the story HERE



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