Dispatch gives medical advice

—H.C. office is Emergency Medical Dispatch certified
CRESCO - Howard County Dispatchers are now certified as Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD).
The designation allows them to give step-by-step instructions on how to perform simple and complex first aid. Without certification, there were huge liability issues.
Dispatcher Jessica Gesell said, “The difference before we went live with EMD on Tuesday, Feb. 7 was we couldn’t give any medical advice over 911. Now if someone isn’t breathing, we can give steps on CPR.” 
They can also guide a person through performing the Heimlich Maneuver, heart attack symptoms, how to advise on whether to take an aspirin or not and coach parents on how to give birth.
“We’re doing this because we want to help the citizens of Howard County with the best care we can give,” Gesell added.
In the past, other departments and television shows have shown a flip chart with instructions for different medical issues. “Now, with technology, the flip chart is digitized. It is much easier and faster to use the computer program than flipping.”
Gesell recalls, “We’ve had multiple times that being EMD certified would have helped, such as when a person was unresponsive.”
Dispatchers will be answering calls differently now that they have EMD certification. “Now, there will be a difference in how we ask questions. We will ask for an address and phone number and have them repeat it. We need the information before paging so the ambulance crew has all the information they need.”
Now Dispatchers can work hand-in-hand with medical personnel. “We are adding a code to our pages to alert EMS if they need to run hot or cold. 
“After we page, we may still talk with the caller. We don’t want them to hang up unless they are asked to.”
Nearly a year to go live
Howard County was able to get EMD certified thanks to a grant written by Emergency Management Coordinator Darrell Knecht. 
After being accepted, Civil Deputy/Jail Administrator Jennifer Bauer started taking classes once a week since May 2022.
In November, the dispatchers started training, which included over 20 hours of classroom classes on site via Zoom or conference call. There were also text books and lots of tests.
They had to go over instructions from minor and major cuts to CPR, entrapment, Hazmat and fire. The new training is added to CPR and blood-borne antigen training they get recertified in every two years.
Gesell was surprised at all the steps needed for an at-home childbirth or miscarriage. “I’ve had four children at the hospital and didn’t realize there were so many steps that have to be checked off.”
The next goal for the department is to get accredited, but that takes several years and lots of paperwork to accomplish.
Sheriff Tim Beckman is pleased the Emergency Medical Dispatch certification has been added to the department’s list of services.
“There have been instances where the dispatchers wanted to help and were not able to. They had the sense of helplessness.”
With the EMD certification, the dispatchers are better able to help with calls that may turn a life-and-death situation into a life-saving experience.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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