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Canfield dispatchers ahead of the game

March 8, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Following the first meeting of the year for the American Heart Association, the results of a new study was released, setting the stage for a push for dispatchers helping in medical calls. The statement published in the Journal of the American Heart Association stated, "More people will survive sudden cardiac arrest when 9-1-1 dispatchers help bystanders assess victims and begin CPR immediately."

"I think it's a call to arms," said E. Brooke Lerner, Ph.D., in a recent press release. Lerner is lead author of the statement and associate professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

"It isn't as common as you think," he said, "that you call 9-1-1 and they tell you what to do."

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Canfield dispatchers Adam Noble and Jenny Wright show the EMD Protocol flip book used when answering a 9-1-1 medical emergency call.

That press release with Lerner's statements went out across the country to police and fire departments and when it came across the desk of Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Don Hutchison, he simply knew that the Canfield dispatchers were way ahead of the game on this one.

"Our dispatchers are already doing what they are recommending," Hutchison said.

He said one incident just a few weeks ago saw the CJFD rescue truck pull up on a scene where the people were already performing CPR. They were doing as instructed by the 9-1-1 dispatcher at the Canfield Police Department.

Hutchison said new studies show that when the heart stops, there is still oxygen in the blood. By getting that blood circulating through chest compressions, the chances of survival as well as recovery -- are greatly improved.

"It's a vital link in the chain of survival," Hutchison said. "It makes a big difference in a patient's outcome."

The Canfield dispatchers respond to medical calls using EMD Protocol. This is a flip page notebook that allows for quick diagnosis of a situation and offers steps to take until emergency crews arrive. According to Senior Dispatcher Jenny Wright, it is a quick series of questions that begins the procedure.

"We first get the address and phone number, then what happened, the age of the patient and whether they are breathing," she said.

From that point, the dispatcher simply follows the EMD Protocol and flips to the right page to have a person begin treatment.

The Canfield Dispatch has four full-time and four part-time dispatchers staffing the phones. Wright said every one of the eight have talked a person through CPR since the system began in 1996.

The EMD Protocol was approved by Dr. George Ellis Jr., who serves as the CJFD medical director. Ellis also oversees the dispatchers.

At present, the CJFD and Canfield dispatchers are the only department in Mahoning County to use the system. They also service the 9-1-1 calls for Green Township, offering the same EMD Protocol.



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