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Emergency medical dispatcher
An emergency medical dispatcher is a professional telecommunicator, tasked with the gathering of information related to medical emergencies, the provision of assistance and instructions by voice, prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS), and the dispatching and support of EMS resources responding to an emergency call. The term "emergency medical dispatcher" is also a certification level and a professional designation, certified through the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, and PowerPhone, Inc. Many dispatchers, whether certified or not, will dispatch using a standard Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol.
Dispatchers have always played an essential role of emergency medical services. At its most basic, the role of the dispatchers has been to identify the problem and the location of the patient, and then identify an ambulance that can be sent to the location. Prior to the professionalization of emergency medical services, this step in the process was often informal; the caller would simply call the local ambulance service, the telephone call would be answered (in many cases by the ambulance attendant who would be responding to the call), the location and problem information would be gathered, and an ambulance assigned to complete the task. The ambulance would then complete the call, return to the station, and wait for the next telephone call. Although earlier experiments with the use of radio communication in ambulances did occur, it was not until the 1950s that the use of radio dispatch became widespread in the United States and Canada. Indeed, during the 1950s the presence of radio dispatch was often treated as a marketing inducement, and was prominently displayed on the sides of ambulances, along with other technological advances, such as carrying oxygen. Dispatch methodology was often determined by the business arrangements of the ambulance company. If the ambulance were under contract to the town, it might be dispatched as an 'add-on' to the fire department or police department resources. In some cases, it might be under contract to the local hospital, and dispatched from there. In many cases, small independent ambulance companies were simply dispatched by a family member or employee, employed part-time in many cases. Ambulance dispatchers required little in the way of qualifications, apart from good telephone manners and a knowledge of the local geography.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ambulance Dispatcher
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