Central Dispatch will soon begin using a new piece of software to better aid in retrieving information from 911 callers.
Rob McMullen, the county’s E-911 director, this week announced the implementation of the Medical, Fire and Police Priority Dispatch System, one they believe will better serve local residents in the event an emergency.
Using the new system, which went live at the end of August, dispatchers will be able to give “universal, consistent care to every caller,” according to a press release issued this week, as well as gather information quickly from critical, life-threatening situations.
The new protocol, McMullen explained, enables dispatchers to accurately assess each emergency situation and send the best response possible, all while “safeguarding valuable and limited emergency service resources and increasing safety for both residents and first-responders.”
One key benefit Knox County Central Dispatch will now provide is a constant stream of crucial and updated scene information to field responders while en route, McMullen said, information that will better prepare police, fire and EMS to give “precise assistance” when they arrive at the scene.
“The use of this updated call handling software will greatly increase the efficiency and continuity of our dispatchers,” said Knox County Commission President Kellie Streeter.
McMullen said when someone calls 911, the dispatcher, upon receiving some initial information, will click the appropriate button among ones labeled: fire, law, or medical.
Once that button is pushed, it launches the program, one that directs dispatchers through a script of questions to garner the most pertinent information in a most efficient manner.
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“By asking those questions, it assists the dispatchers in determining what type of call the dispatcher is dealing with,” McMullen said. “The type of call determines the next set of key questions, which will further dive into the problem to assist the dispatcher in providing the correct information to the caller while waiting for police, fire, or EMS to respond.”
Currently, McMullen went on to explain, dispatchers essentially improvise; streamlining the way they acquire information from 911 callers will be better for both.
“Dispatchers just weren’t getting all the extra information,” he said. “Veteran dispatchers may ask different questions than new dispatchers due to the length of time at the job.
“Now everyone will be asking the same questions systematically, and all callers will get the same level of service all across the board.”
The new system requires a three-day certification training course for all emergency dispatchers as well as and continual quality improvement benchmarks and training.
All dispatchers who work on the new system are certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch and must recertify every two years, completing 24 hours of continuing dispatch education and passing all requirements for NAED recertification.
The program cost $75,000, McMullen said, and came from E-911 funds. The state pays for dispatcher training, a cost savings of approximately $7,500.