|H. Stephen Williamson: Life-saving medical care begins the second EMSA answers the phone
By. H. Stephen Williamson-Tulsa World
Published: 3/15/2013 1:42 AM
Susan Taylor's husband Bob of 30 years stopped breathing. As he fell to the living room floor, she immediately rushed for the phone to call 911. That's when Susan and Melissa, the emergency medical dispatcher, first met. Throughout the five-minute call, Melissa calmed Susan enough for her to check Bob's vital signs - no pulse - and begin CPR.
While not every call is this severe, EMSA receives more than 10,000 calls through 911 every month.
Bob was released from the hospital less than a week later with a full recovery. The Taylors have since met Melissa to thank her for, as Susan puts it, "returning a grandfather to his grandkids."
What helped this family? Medical Priority Dispatch System, the most advanced medically managed emergency medical dispatch system available. MPDS is the world's most widely-used 911-type pre-arrival instruction and dispatch life-support protocol system.
This is what EMSA uses to quickly and accurately assess each emergency call. With MPDS, according to its developer, Dr. Jeff Clawson, in 1979, citizens receive "the right thing to the right person in the right way at the right time."
MPDS is a systematic, scripted series of questions, starting with chief complaint, which guides the emergency medical dispatcher to quickly, accurately and completely assess a person's medical emergency.
The system allows for "zero minute" identification of the most severe or life-threatening emergencies. One important quality is that the system includes scripted medical protocols. This allows emergency medical dispatchers to give immediate medical instructions over the phone to the caller. This could mean, as in the Taylors' case, the patient in cardiac arrest receives the priceless life-saving benefit of accurately instructed CPR immediately, or your child's cut leg receives properly applied pressure to stop the bleeding faster.
The evidence-based protocols assess and treat everything from cardiac arrest to superficial dog bites to active shooter incidents.
The standardized approach also directs which emergency vehicles are dispatched to the scene, such as first responders or law enforcement. The detailed scripts go as far as to ask what hazards might be present at the scene that could put the patient, bystander or emergency responders in further danger.
EMSA's eastern division 911 communications center just earned its re-accreditation in January with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch as an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence - one of just 118 in the world. EMSA was the 37th center worldwide to earn the distinction when it was accredited the first time in March 2000.
To be accredited, a communications center must prove comprehensive implementation and compliance with MPDS and an associated "20 Points of Excellence." In addition to the demands of careful compliance, the center must have proper system oversight, medical control and quality improvement programs and certification for all of its emergency medical dispatchers.
This accomplishment demonstrates to not only each individual within the communications center, but also to the community and the world, that EMSA's 911 communications center is providing "the right thing to the right person in the right way at the right time."
At a time when Oklahoma doesn't often make the top of the list for its successes - especially in health care - we can all celebrate this stellar performance.
In addition to our dedicated, professional emergency medical dispatchers, we thank all of our health-care and emergency responder partners for their continued commitment to the public.
This bright spot in the area's medical community should certainly go a long way to help Tulsa, Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs citizens sleep better at night knowing we are ready and able to provide them the highest quality emergency medical care available. And that life-saving medical care begins the second EMSA answers the phone.