We all understand that 911 operators have the means to dispatch an ambulance to our location during a medical emergency.
But let’s be honest, the last thing on our minds is how this process works. As long as we get the help we need as soon as possible, all is well that ends well.
That being said, it’s systems like this that we rely on as a society to protect us and save lives.
Not only are they exciting to learn about, but they also give us valuable insight into the hard work and selflessness responders devote to their jobs every single day.
So, if you’ve ever been curious about how the ambulance dispatch system works, you’ve come to the right place.
A Brief History of the Ambulance Dispatch System
Nowadays, dispatchers have efficient computer programs that help them track and manage the ambulances in their area—which we’ll cover in a moment…
But the process wasn’t always so streamlined.
Until recently, they’ve had to either write down or memorize the locations of various emergency medical services (EMS) teams.
These methods make the dispatch process incredibly challenging, especially in large cities, where there’s a good chance that most (if not all) ambulances will be on the move at any given time.
Not to mention, that’s on top of all their other responsibilities, which include gathering information about victims’ emergencies, talking them through life-threatening situations, calming them down, and much more.
As you can imagine, all of these factors come together to make an almost unimaginably stressful job for our emergency dispatchers.
But luckily, the advent of advanced computer-based ambulance dispatch systems has relieved some of that stress.
The Modern-Day Ambulance Dispatch System
The systems of today make multi-tasking much easier.
Rather than leaving it up to the dispatcher to track local ambulances, modern programs already have this information built in.
It’s called Ambulance Fleet Tracking, and it gives dispatchers more breathing room to focus on gathering information from victims.
Here’s how the process works…
Gathering Emergency Information
As soon as a call comes in, the system automatically attempts to pinpoint the victim’s location based on their phone number.
If it succeeds, the dispatcher simply needs to verify this location with them.
If not, then they’ll need to ask the victim directly.
As a dispatcher learns more about the emergency (i.e., the victim’s name, location, phone number, the nature of their situation, etc.), they input this info into the ambulance dispatch system.
Believe it or not, some of these programs are so advanced that they can cross-reference information from different 911 calls to detect if the same emergency is being reported multiple times.
Finding an Available EMS Crew
Based on the victim’s location, the fleet tracking software will identify and dispatch the closest available ambulance. Some versions of these programs provide dispatchers with up to three options and let them choose using their best judgment.
Information including vehicle rig type and emergency personnel qualifications is displayed as well.
In the event that there aren’t any available ambulances, the system will check the status of each vehicle and determine which ones will be able to respond the soonest.
Then, it’s up to the dispatcher to select the vehicle they think is best for the current situation.
An Open Line of Communication
Modern ambulance dispatch systems come equipped with an interface that allows for direct communication with ambulance drivers.
This not only gives dispatchers the ability to provide drivers valuable information about the emergency…
But it also allows them to send live traffic updates and directions to ensure the fastest possible response times.
These systems empower dispatchers by giving them a bird’s eye view of the emergencies they’re overseeing…
Something that was never possible before.
Tracking Ambulances in Real-Time
Real-time vehicle location data is a powerful asset for the emergency dispatcher.
It gives them a clear sense of where the ambulance is in relation to the victim, which provides two critical pieces of information:
- The estimated response time, and…
- How long it takes the ambulance to arrive at the hospital once EMS has left the scene.
Plus, if a dispatcher stays on the phone with a victim while the ambulance is on route, they can provide reassurance that help is getting closer by the minute.
With these state-of-the-art ambulance dispatch systems, 911 operators can keep a close and well-informed eye on medical emergencies from start to finish…
And there’s no telling just how many lives have been saved as a result.
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