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911 Emergency Dispatch Centers

911 emergency dispatch centers will activate emergency medical services to the location of the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest call. In rural areas, dispatchers typically do not have medical training; their main focus is expediting emergency medical services response and keeping bystanders calm. Some dispatchers receive additional education to become emergency medical dispatchers. Certified emergency medical dispatchers will guide a bystander through the delivery of compressions-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If an automated external defibrillator is available, the emergency medical dispatcher will guide a bystander through the operation of an automated external defibrillator until the arrival of emergency medical services on scene.


The evaluation of the 911 emergency dispatch centers encompasses:

  1. Mapping of the dispatch centers’ response processes to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest calls. The resulting process flow maps, in conjunction with time stamp data may assist the dispatch centers’ continuous quality improvement efforts. For those dispatch centers operating under the direction of a medical director, system wide mapping allows the medical director to follow patient care from start to finish on any case.
  2. System-wide exercises to test and improve the dispatch centers’ documentation procedures and communication protocols with other subsystems.
  3. Conducting a pilot project designed to demonstrate the possibilities of real-time flow of patient health information between dispatch centers, emergency medical services, hospitals, and the state’s health information exchange network.

Barriers to Efficiency

  • Rural emergency dispatch centers have limited financial resources affecting investments in technology upgrades and medical dispatch education.
  • Shortage of medical dispatch training limits emergency dispatch centers’ practice in pre-arrival medical intervention such as dispatch-assisted CPR instruction.
  • High rates of turnover due to difficulties recruiting and retaining dispatchers.
  • Old dispatch technology may not be able locate addresses.
  • Lack of computer aided dispatch software may affect emergency dispatch centers’ continuous quality improvement efforts.
  • Rural emergency dispatch centers may experience limited involvement from medical directors affecting their medical dispatch protocols and medical related continuous quality improvement efforts.
  • Many emergency dispatch centers are located long distance from the scene making it challenging for dispatchers in locating the call.


Dispatch Assisted CPR

Automated External Defibrillator Registry

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