Time to Re-Vamp how Dispatcher handles Emergency Call
Not much is known about how dispatchers are trained to handle 911 calls but one thing is perfectly clear. If this article is an example of how some handles those calls a complete re-vamp of the manual is sorely needed. There have been several articles about this type of dispensing of calls but this one may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The article is written by Russell Contereras and Terry Tang for the Associated Press titled “Panicked 911 caller: Dispatcher had no reason to hang up” and it reports that “a 911 caller said Wednesday she was panicked about a friend being shot but stayed as calm as possible before a New Mexico dispatcher told her to "deal with it yourself" and hung up as she sought aid. Seventeen-year-old Esperanza Quintero told The Associated Press that she wished dispatcher Matthew Sanchez had done more to help after her friend Jaydon Chavez-Silver was shot in June while watching friends play cards inside a home. He later died. In the recording, Quintero snaps at Sanchez for repeatedly asking whether the 17-year-old Chavez-Silver is breathing. Officials said Sanchez was employed by the Albuquerque Fire Department for 10 years and was a firefighter before being assigned to a dispatcher job. It was unclear why the change was made. He resigned Tuesday after the recording was made public.”
So now you have a person who died, unknown if medical attention had reached him sooner if this would have been the case. You have several families now distraught and destroyed with a death to visit nightmares upon them for the remainder of their days on this earth. You have a man, who had dreamed of serving his community by being a fire fighter, now reduced to almost nothing because his dream of making a difference may just be stamped out for now. All this because management may not have employed one simple tactic which could have prevented this from ever happening. That simple tactic is when one dispatcher gets an emergency call like that; they gather situation, address and point of contact then quickly pass that information on to another dispatcher who then dispatches the necessary assistance. The original dispatcher stays on the phone with the caller and tries to gather as much information as he/she can because the biggest issue with dispatchers is finding out all the answers before anything rolls. The time between the call and the actual dispatching is quite intense for any dispatcher. This is the key and if all dispatching agencies institute this change, many of these should cease.
Of course there is also another factor and that is the temperament of the person doing the dispatcher, unfortunately there is no simple answer to this problem except to say make sure you are hiring an individual who can remain, cool, calm and collected under these circumstances but that burden falls upon those who do the hiring and the procedures they are forced to follow.