Osage County EMS: 911 dispatchers guide you to be the first first responder

By Con Olson, MICT, Regional Executive Director, Osage County EMS

This month Osage County EMS starts a three-part series on what happens during a medical emergency and before a patient arrives at the hospital.

071114-Osagecounty-EMSWhy call an ambulance when you could put someone in your car and go to the hospital? Often times that decision can be very dangerous for you, your patient and the public. If it’s a serious emergency your anxiety is up and you drive faster. The extra anxiety may lead to a ticket from a police officer, or worse yet you could injure the patient more or get in a serious crash. Several times a year we are called by law enforcement officers to care for a patient because the driver taking them to the hospital was stopped for speeding or driving recklessly. Numerous times in my career I’ve responded to a car crash to find it was caused by someone driving recklessly while taking a minor injury to the hospital.

Call 911 so that trained medical personnel can arrive and treat the emergency. Waiting for emergency responders doesn’t mean the patient has to wait to receive care though. When you call 911, emergency medical dispatchers help you to be the first first responder.

The emergency medical dispatcher

When you call 911 the phone is answered by a dispatcher certified as an emergency medical dispatcher (EMD). This person will ask you a couple of basic questions. First, the location and phone number you are calling from. This is done in case the call gets disconnected before the EMD is able to verify what the 911 computer recognizes. While the EMD is asking questions, a second dispatcher is notifying the first responders and ambulance of your emergency. This does not delay emergency personnel from responding to you.

Why so many questions?

During the course of your call, the EMD will be asking you several questions based upon the nature of the emergency. The EMD has a set of scripted questions based upon the patient’s condition that are pre-approved by the emergency medical service’s physician medical director. This allows for the EMD to gather the appropriate emergency information, which is then passed onto the emergency responders. This allows the responders to better prepare for the emergency and request any additional help that would provide important care without delay.

Making you the first first responder

While you’re talking to them, the EMD is also able to provide you with the appropriate pre-arrival instructions. PAIs are also pre-scripted medical treatment protocol, pre-approved by the EMS physician medical director. There are PAIs for performing CPR, the Heimlich, controlling bleeding, delivering a baby and other major medical emergencies. These step-by-step instructions for medical care are designed for the average person that has no medical knowledge. Basic instructions from the PAIs allow you to start providing emergency medical care immediately. You are now the first first responder at the scene.

What else can I do before the ambulance gets here?

There are a few other things that you can do to help the first responders and paramedics while you wait. Gather the patient’s medication, medical history and allergies for medical personnel to review. Make sure all pets are put away and secure. If possible, send someone outside to meet the responders so they can locate you more easily.

For more information, contact Osage County EMS at 785-528-1139, or visit www.ksems.com/OsageEMS.htm.


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