By Audrey Fraizer
Dane County (Wis.) Public Safety Communications was in the market for a dispatch system 12 years ago and naturally contacted the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) for an overview of its EMD program.
“Jeff [Clawson] came out and we sat down for lunch,” said Paul Stiegler, M.D., Dane County’s medical director. “That’s all it took. As an emergency physician, he got it. This was exactly what we wanted.”
Although the entire process impressed Dr. Stiegler—all the steps from Case Entry to quality assurance—he was most intrigued by the Determinant Descriptors.
“The codes were big,” he said. “It helped us reconfigure how we sent response. We now had a system sending the closest ambulance to the sickest patients no matter the boundaries. For us, that was great.”
For Dane County, however, EMD was just the beginning. Dr. Stiegler certified as an EMD instructor, and over the years he has taught the EMD certification course in-house to the center’s calltakers and dispatchers. The center achieved Medical Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) status in March 2011 and its Fire ACE and Police ACE on April 4, 2013, and April 11, 2013, respectively.
Dr. Stiegler was in the audience at NAVIGATOR when the Salt Lake City 9-1-1 Communications Bureau and Dane County Public Safety Communications’ tri-ACEs, numbers six and seven, respectively, were announced and applauded. He was also pleased by the ovation received for the song “Salt Lake City,” which he composed at the request of IAED President Scott Freitag; the song was played during the Opening Session. While music and ACE were not one and the same, they do represent the doctor’s priorities. Both are close to his heart.
“I write about what matters to me,” he said. “The ACE matters because it validates you’re doing emergency communications correctly for the community. You’re assuring the public you’re doing the best you can for the patient.”
Dr. Stiegler credited Operations Manager Gary Bell, Support Services Manager Paul Logan, and, foremost, the communicators for making the tri-ACE happen. Logan, who started as a dispatcher 20 years ago, said the use of protocol better enables their ability to have a positive impact on callers.
“How we interact can make or break the recovery,” Logan said. “That’s what I love about what we do. If you’re engaged, at the top of your game, you can make a big difference in a person’s life.”
The ACE, he said, validates the center’s good work.
“We have the ACE plaques hung strategically in the hall,” he said. “This is important for the public to see and says a lot about the integrity of our front-line folks.”
IAED Associate Director Carlynn Page and IAED Accreditation Board Chair Brian Dale announced the two new tri-ACEs, 18 first-time ACEs, and 44 medical, police, and fire agencies re-accredited over the past year. Among the newcomers to ACE is Wuxi Emergency Center in Jiangsu, China, which is the first center in Mainland China to achieve accreditation.