The following is paid content sponsored by Priority Dispatch.
By Police1 BrandFocus Staff
Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Safety Communications Center is a Tri-ACE certified center. It has received accreditation in the fire, police, and medical protocols developed by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED).
The communications center serves 37 different municipalities and almost 1 million people during the day. It receives about 1.8 million emergency calls per a year.
The center is staffed with 203 civilian personnel working together as 9-1-1 calltakers, law enforcement and fire/EMS dispatchers, trainers, supervisors, FOIA/MPIA processors, career development coordinators, administrators, managers, technical staff and radio communication specialists. This includes 180 calltakers and police, fire and EMS dispatchers.
While there was paper- and verbal-based training on which questions calltakers should ask based on the 9-1-1 call, there were no tools available to prompt what question to ask next in the sequence during a call or instructions to provide care prior to the arrival of responders.
“There was anxiety about asking questions and knowing which question to ask next,” said Angela VanDyke, training coordinator at the Prince George’s County communications center. “It was written in a standard operating procedures manual but no one could remember it all.”
Prince George’s County communications center addressed the problem through the use of protocols developed by the IAED and, operationally, the complementary ProQA® Paramount software package. During the course of an emergency call, ProQA Paramount guides the dispatcher through the process of collecting the vital information from the caller, obtaining the patient’s status, choosing an appropriate dispatch level, and instructing the caller with the medical, police, or fire approved protocols until the dispatched units arrive at the scene.
VanDyke and a team from the software developers Priority Dispatch Corp. (PDC) trained the team and within six months, all calltakers and dispatchers were proficient in navigating the protocol systems using the ProQA Paramount software.
VanDyke said the software driving the industry-proven, standard protocols takes into account the unique, non-visual nature of the emergency dispatch environment, and allows the dispatcher to provide instructions vital to the situation, including scene safety in police incidents and lifesaving first aide for a medical crisis.
VanDyke said the greatest result of installing ProQA Paramount was reducing anxiety and building confidence among the calltakers and dispatchers.
“It is such an anxiety riddled job, and the protocols and ProQA Paramount takes so much of that away,” she said.
In addition, police and first responders are getting information faster—as soon as it is entered into the CAD—which benefits the people on scene and the response arriving.
“Calltakers are asking more accurate questions, leading to more data gathered from the caller,” she said. “This improves response and, also, provides information for improved situational awareness.”
A total system that includes AQUA Quality Improvement Software guides high compliance to the process.
AQUA automates the entire emergency dispatch case review process. It assists you with many tasks such as data entry, compliance scoring, record keeping, reporting, and more. AQUA helps ensure that emergency dispatchers are providing quality service in compliance with all standards established by the IAED.
“We can base training off of where people are having issues,” VanDyke said.
Another plus was having more consistency across the communications center.
“We are so large, with so much diversity, that consistency helps with customer service,” VanDyke said. “It ensures our callers are getting the same service they all deserve and hopefully we are providing that for them.”