EMERGENCY RESPONSE SERVICES: Background and Motivation 4


There arc a number of benefits to E911 technology. Of course, even when the caller knows the location and directions precisely, it takes time to communicate this information, and mistakes are easy to make with callers who are experiencing panic or fear. For the frequent cases where people do not know their exact address (they are visiting a friend, or experience an emergency incident in a public place), the location information is even more valuable. Likewise, the location information can be crucial for callers who are children or adults for who do not speak English or are unable to speak. Furthermore, once address information can be communicated instantaneously, the call taker has more time to gather information about the severity of the emergency, and the call taker can further provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller. Finally, this system mitigates some of the costs of centralizing the call centers, since detailed geographic knowledge of an area is not essential.

After a call-taker receives and establishes the location and severity of an emergency call, the dispatcher directs an ambulance to the scene of the emergency. The ambulance provides three related services: provision of immediate emergency care, transportation service to a hospital, and the exercise of (limited) discretion over the allocation of patients to particular local hospitals. Counties differ in their provision of ambulance services. More info

A potential benefit of specialized personnel and coordinated 911 services is that scarce resources for ambulance services can be more efficiently allocated. The dispatcher might have to choose whether to dispatch an ambulance equipped with Advanced Life Support (ALS) facilities, or, alternatively, a less technically sophisticated Basic Life Support (BLS) unit. This decision can be made more efficient when the call-taker gathers the relevant information about the nature of the emergency. When such decisions are made in the absence of appropriate information, ambulances may not be available to answer higher priority calls, and average response times for high priority cases will rise. In fact, a number of studies document the fact that many ambulance systems service a large number of superfluous calls, where ambulance service was not the best method for providing care (Gibson, 1977; Smith, 1988; Brown and Sindelar, 1993). This literature tends to strongly support the increased use of sophisticated prioritization and computerization in the dispatching process. Coordinated and trained call-takers and dispatchers can better utilize the scarce ambulance resources, and the adoption of computer-aided dispatching and other such solutions are more easily accomplished in systems which haveE911.