Muscatine implements new medical protocol system

A new medical protocol system has been implemented by the Muscatine County Joint Communications Center (MUSCOM) that will enable dispatchers to accurately assess each emergency situation and send the best possible response.

The Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) went live at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 to better serve the citizens of Muscatine County in emergency situations. Dispatchers will receive on-sight and hands-on training with the system providers for the next two days.

“The dispatchers will be able to provide potential lifesaving instructions over the phone to callers,” Chris Jasper, 911 Communications Manager for MUSCOM, said. “And it will provide a series of questions we can ask the caller so that the first responders are more prepared to assist the patient upon arrival.”

The system had its first test shortly after going live.

“We had our first call using the new system this morning (Tuesday) and it went rather well,” Jasper said.

The implementation of the system provides dispatchers an onscreen display with a series of questions that can be asked of the caller so that the dispatchers can accurately assess each emergency situation. Each question is built upon the response to the previous question to gather a better assessment of the patient’s condition. That information is transmitted in real time to the first responders while they are traveling to the location of the call.

“This is a protocol that allows us to send the best response possible while safeguarding valuable and limited emergency services resources and increasing safety for both citizens and responders,” Jasper said.

The constant stream of crucial and updated scene information to first responders is one of the key benefits of the new system, which will better prepare responders to give precise assistance when they arrive.

“Field responders will be able to see real time information about the patient or the patient’s conditions so they are more prepared for what they are responding to,” Jasper said.

This additional protocol will not create a delay in dispatching according to Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hartman.

“Any additional questions are relayed to the crews after they are on their way,” Hartman said. “This will improve efficiency and provide consistently high quality dispatching.”

Hartman noted that this is a national standard system that has been proven for years to be best practice.

“This integration is taking what we already had and improving the access and consistency of the program,” Hartman said. “We went from using a card system to a computer based system that requires answers. That created better compliance and improved customer service.”

Quicker response times are also a benefit of the new system according to Fire Chief Jerry Ewers.

“Being able to constantly gather and update patient information before first responder arrive cuts down on the time needed for on site assessment,” Ewers said. “And that benefits the patient by getting them to the medical care they need a lot faster.”

Dispatchers using the newly implemented protocol system will follow internationally recognized standards, be able to provide universal, consistent care and service to every caller, gather critical emergency call information for responders while they are enroute to the location, identify life-threatening situations where additional resources may be needed, safely prioritize calls for appropriate and fast response, and, provide “Zero Minute” Dispatch Life Support using Pre- Arrival and Post-Dispatch Instructions.

The Priority Dispatch System (PDS) includes ProQA® software, a three-day certification training course for emergency dispatchers, and continual quality improvement benchmarks and training. All dispatchers who work on the new system are certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and must recertify every two years, completing 24 hours of continuing dispatch education and passing all requirements for IAED recertification.

The benchmarks are an important part of the PDS allowing communications centers to assess the quality of the care they are providing for their communities, and allowing them to make positive adjustments to training and staff in response to these assessments.

The constantly evolving PDS will help provide the highest standard of care to the community, allowing Emergency Medical Dispatchers to better manage limited resources and increase the accuracy and efficiency of the dispatching process.

MUSCOM is the single public safety answering point for Muscatine County. It staffs 12 full time dispatchers and one part time dispatcher. Last year MUSCOM took approximately 13,000 – 911 calls and just over 70,000 non-emergency calls.

— City of Muscatine