NorthStar Emergency Medical Services Says Talk during 911 Calls Doesn't Slow Emergency Response

By Taylor, Stephanie | The Tuscaloosa News, February 6, 2014 | Go to article overview

NorthStar Emergency Medical Services Says Talk during 911 Calls Doesn't Slow Emergency Response


Taylor, Stephanie, The Tuscaloosa News


Employees at NorthStar Emergency Medical Services have spent the last two years training to meet the standards of a new dispatch system that streamlines the emergency response process, but some callers feel it's doing just the opposite.

The new system requires call-takers to ask a fairly lengthy series of questions. Those questions have led to some frustration from 911 callers who don't realize that an ambulance is already on the way while they're still providing crucial information, said Edgar Calloway, director of operations for NorthStar Emergency Medical Services.

"There's a public misconception that us asking these questions is slowing down the ambulance response," he said. "That's absolutely not the case. The additional questioning does not slow down their emergency response, it only provides the responders with more information so that they're better prepared upon arrival."

Information typed into the company's system is immediately shared within the network, meaning that a crew is en route while the call- taker is still on the phone.

"People get frustrated. We hear 'will y'all just come on' and 'I can't answer all these questions, just send somebody to help,'" Calloway said. "We want to get the word out so the public will understand how this works."

The questions are a systemized way for 911 dispatchers to categorize calls and determine the urgency of each. Answers determine whether NorthStar sends more resources or scales back the response, Calloway said.

"We start every call out as if it were a high-priority critical emergency," he said. …

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