By Audrey Fraizer
Santa Fe, N.M.
When Ken Martinez, director, Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center, received word of medical accreditation there was no stopping his announcement to the Board of Directors.
“It was a great feeling saying it was done, and that we had achieved what we had set out to do,” he said.
Martinez said accreditation was top priority when he was promoted to director. The medical ACE, awarded in 2012, will be followed with the fire and, then, police ACE. He anticipates the going to be smooth, considering the buy in he has achieved.
“The tough part was getting everybody on board, and taking the necessary steps to make it work,” he said. “There were difficult decisions to make but once we were through the problem-solving and became a team, we got the ACE going.”
Martinez, however, cautioned against going too fast and, at his center, decided to keep compliance scores at ACE levels prior to applying.
“The worst thing you can do is achieve accreditation and then lose it by not maintaining your scores,” he said.
Martinez was sure they would continue that pace to achieve re-accreditation in 2015 when applicants must use new recently released performance standards (see the Official Statement on page 13).
“Compliance scores haven’t dropped since achieving ACE, and I expect them to stay at the same high level,” Martinez said. “Keeping with current high standards of compliance is worked into the routine.”
The Santa Fe Regional Emergency Communications Center was established in 2002 to consolidate E9-1-1 and emergency dispatch operations for the Santa Fe Police Department, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department, and the city and county fire departments. The dispatch center was part of the public safety building completed the same year, which employs 49 dispatchers, calltakers, and other administrative staff.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Laurie Wilson-Bell has been in emergency communications at the place where it all started for almost the same amount of time as the protocols.
Wilson-Bell began her career as a police dispatcher in Salt Lake City in 1982—three years after the Medical Protocol was introduced at the Salt Lake City Fire Department communications center. She grew up around them, professionally speaking, but was a bit hesitant when it came apparent that she would be making the transition to structured calltaking.
Now she wouldn’t have it any differently, and the same goes for praise of the tri-ACE the consolidated (police, fire, medical) Salt Lake City (Utah) 9-1-1 Communications Bureau achieved in 2013.
“ACE is the gold standard for dispatch,” said Wilson-Bell, the quality assurance supervisor. “When you’re at the top, it’s a huge advantage for your staff and the public you serve.”
Salt Lake City merged its emergency communication services in 2013, putting more than 70 employees in the same center to handle an anticipated 550,000 9-1-1 calls during the first year of working together. Medical dispatch was accredited in 1997, followed by fire in 2007, and police in 2013.
Christian Laucher wanted proof before he was willing to accept the transition to scripted calltaking using the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS).
The former 144 Notruf Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) processing manager had worked in dispatching for eight years when the protocol was implemented, and he needed some convincing before embracing the change.
“This is something American that wouldn’t work in our country, and I took it upon myself to prove it,” Laucher said. “Well, it proved me wrong. It did work.”
The protocol not only changed his way of thinking but it, also, led him and the center in new directions.
Laucher made his first trip to NAVIGATOR in 2005, skipped two years, and has been a steadfast attendee for consecutive years since 2008. In 2009, he was at NAVIGATOR to accept the ACE awarded to 144 Notruf Niederösterreich.
It was the first center in continental Europe to become an ACE and staff has become the protocol’s torchbearers in their part of the world.
Laucher and Heinz Novosad, the center’s training manager, are members of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch German Cultural Committee (covering Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) and the Medical Council of Standards Readers Group. They are certified in medical and fire protocol instruction and quality improvement.
Novosad said the conference provides time for long discussions among peers about how they can do their jobs better and faster.
“Our voices are heard,” Novosad said. “We are respected for the perspective we bring. It’s also great to know that we are helping to further international use of protocol and making Dispatch Life Support more common in Europe.”
144 Notruf Niederösterreich, which dispatches more than one million events a year for the state of Lower Austria, has a service area of 7,403 square miles and a population of 1.6 million German speakers. It is the first accredited comm. center in continental Europe, having accredited in 2009 and re-accredited in 2012. Christof Chwojka is the chief executive officer.