Significance and Use
5.1 The emergency medical dispatcher should be a specially trained telecommunicator with specific emergency medical knowledge. Many of these personnel still perform in this role without the benefits of dispatch specific medical training and medically sound protocols. The majority perform their duties without appropriate medical management provided through a structured quality assurance/improvement environment. Training only prepares a new EMD for correct use of the EMDPRS. It cannot ensure that the EMDPRS is used as intended. Since the EMD is clearly defined as a pre-hospital medical professional, it is necessary to establish sound medical management processes through a multi-component QA/QI program administered by the EMD's agency in conjunction with the physician medical director. Prompt, correct, and appropriate patient care can be enhanced through the use of a standardized approach to quality assurance, especially the component of EMD performance assessment. This practice is intended for use by agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions having the responsibility for providing such services and assurances to the public through the correct management of the nation's emergency medical dispatchers.
1.1 This practice covers the function of the emergency medical dispatcher (EMD). This function is the prompt and accurate processing of calls for emergency medical assistance. The training and practice through the use of a written or automated medical dispatch protocol is not sufficient in itself to ensure continued medically correct functioning of the EMD. Their dispatch-specific medical training and focal role in EMS has developed to such a complexity that only through a correctly structured and appropriately managed quality assurance environment can the benefits of their practice be fully realized. The philosophies of emergency medical dispatch have established new duties to which the emergency medical dispatch agency must respond. It is important that their quality assurance/quality improvement (QA/QI) activities, including initial hiring, orientation, training and certification, continuing dispatch education, recertification, and performance evaluation be given appropriate managerial attention to help ensure the ongoing safety in the performance of the EMD. This practice establishes functional guidelines for these managerial, administrative and supervisory functions.
1.2 The scope of this practice includes:
1.2.1 The entry level selection criteria for hiring emergency medical dispatchers;
1.2.2 The orientation of new emergency medical dispatchers;
1.2.3 Development of QA/QI mechanisms, management strategies and organizational structures for use within a comprehensive emergency medical dispatch system;
1.2.4 Performance evaluation as a component of a comprehensive and ongoing quality assurance and risk management program for an emergency medical dispatch system;
1.2.5 Development and provision of continuing dispatch education activities for the emergency medical dispatcher;
1.2.6 Requirements for initial certification and recertification of the emergency medical dispatcher;
1.2.7 Provision for comparative analysis between different EMD program approaches available to the EMS community that conform to established EMD practice standards prior to implementation of an emergency medical dispatch program; and
1.2.8 Guidelines for implementation of an emergency medical dispatch program.
1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.