A new era of emergency response begins today as Pottawatomie County’s 911 center begins using protocols for EMD – Emergency Medical Dispatching.

A new era of emergency response begins today as Pottawatomie County’s 911 center begins using protocols for EMD – Emergency Medical Dispatching.

EMD brings changes to the way emergency personnel are dispatched to calls, with the changes intended to save time and provide better services for residents. Dispatchers also can provide lifesaving medical advice while ambulances are en route to a scene to provide care to the patient much quicker.

J.R. Kidney, who serves as chairman of the county’s 911 board, said the new system will be a great asset to the citizens.

“I’m excited for the residents of Pottawatomie County,” Kidney said. “With this technology…the level of care for the citizens can start at the phone.”

The dispatch changes affect 911 calls and responses in Pottawatomie County areas outside of the Shawnee city limits.

Tommy Arnold, who is director the county’s E-911 center, said before the change, if someone in the county called 911 for a traffic accident and needed an ambulance, the dispatcher would get information to send the fire department personnel first, but then would have to transfer the same 911 phone call to Shawnee’s communications center for dispatching of a REACT ambulance.

With EMD, there’s a set of procedures for the dispatcher to follow on the computer to ascertain the complaint, and if it is a vehicle accident, for example, the dispatcher can simultaneously send firefighters for the right area and also get REACT paramedics en route without having to transfer the call to Shawnee. Through dispatching, the Shawnee communications center would be notified on radio systems and continue dialogue with the REACT ambulance that is already in route to the call, Arnold said.

The set up saves times and gets REACT en route quicker, Arnold said, by eliminating an extra phone call. Those calling 911 can also get lifesaving information from the dispatcher based on the medical situation, whether it’s how to give CPR or deliver a baby.

“EMD will give post dispatch instructions,” Arnold said, including instructions for pre-arrival of the ambulance, which could include instruction such as taking an aspirin if a heart attack is suspected in a patient.

“Getting aspirin in the first 30 minutes can delay a possible heart attack by as much as an hour,” Arnold said.

Following national standards and protocols, it took about five months for the Pottawatomie County E-911 Center to become certified in EMD, Arnold said.

Through the process, and with general call volume already growing, the 911 Center has gone from having two full-time dispatchers on duty 24 hours a day to having three on duty at peak times, which has added about 60 dispatching personnel hours per week, he said.

Through the system, the protocols for a medical response may reveal times where ambulances may be needed, but it isn’t necessary to dispatch firefighters, such as a sick call.

Tecumseh Fire Chief Aaron Williams said firefighters will always be dispatched to traffic accidents, but firefighters won’t respond to every medical call if protocols show only an ambulance is needed, which can help the fire department better manage its resources for fires and other types of emergency situations.

In situations where REACT crews need assistance from firefighters, or if a dispatcher feels there needs to be fire crews at a scene, Williams said they can override protocols and be dispatched as needed.

Among the other agencies in Oklahoma using EMD are the EMSA ambulance services in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, as well as Muskogee, Arnold said.

In addition to the EMD, Arnold said Pottawatomie County’s 911 Center will move to using fire and police dispatching protocols in February, which will make the center the first in the state to utitlize all three national protocols.

Pottawatomie County’s 911 Center operates out of building at the city hall complex in Tecumseh.