Monday Morning – Dispatch Readiness
We posted an interesting story about nine days ago where a man was had a life-threatening medical emergency at his home in Wales where he lived alone. He had been awakened from an excruciating pain caused by a chronic back ailment that had resulted from a long-ago injury. Unable to use his cellphone because the battery was dead, he saw his laptop across the room and began a hellish trip crawling across the floor, inch-by-inch for a half-hour, until he reached it…..without his glasses. Barely able to see the screen and keyboard, he logged online to his Facebook page and typed out a garbled message calling for help. Within minutes, his Facebook "Friends" in several different countries started placing phone calls to the Wales dispatch center and help was on the way. See our story "Facebook is a Lifesaver" HERE.
That story got me to thinking (a sometimes dubious exercise) about just how prepared our call-takers and dispatchers are when it comes to this sort of communications. By their nature, 9-1-1 people are pretty savvy when it comes to electronic communications and the like, even if their own dispatch center is a few years behind the times when it comes to digital equipment. In fact, with the extremely fast upgrading and improving technology, almost every dispatch center is behind the times. It just can't be avoided. But our human components can be upgraded quickly and easily.
But first they have to have a common baseline of knowledge that the entire center is operating with and that should include the familiarity with digital online communications. Back to Facebook for example, everybody has heard of it by now and probably a high percentage of your console workers have experience with it. But you can bet there will always be at least one call-taker who hasn't the foggiest of how the thing works. And I'm sure the same situation is there for Twitter, Skype, and the cluster of other 21st-century communicating methods.
By now all 9-1-1 centers should have held a basic familiarity drill on the so-called social media and online phone services, followed up with a clear, established S.O.P. on how they will be handled. I'm referring to a structured, well researched, formal training session that covers these methods. What they are, how they work, and just as importantly, the nomenclature and jargon that accompanies the various programs. If a call-taker gets a 9-1-1 incoming and the caller start jabbering about a Facebook friend who is 8,000 miles away needing an ambulance, you want that communications clerk to be able to communicate right away without having figure out what this caller is talking about. This is a major shift in personal communications and we are obliged to be shifting along with it. So how is your emergency dispatch center measuring up? If they're not, then do what you can to get the show on the road to upgrade their "baseline of knowledge."
Now let's get our 19th-century clipboards out and start checking out this equipment. I'll see that the coffee pot gets refilled and then meet you back in the day room in a little while.
* * * * * * *