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9-1-1 For Health Care Providers

Purpose

Health care providers are persons who provide medical care to any individual in a systematic manner. This includes doctors, nurses, and any public or community health professional, all having varying degrees of knowledge and levels of experience. Health care can take the place inside of established medical facilities, assisted living facilities or private homes. The resources and abilities for patient care may vary also for the type of medical facility or in home medical equipment. When calling 911, the telecommunicator answering the phone will not know the levels of knowledge of each individual calling, nor be aware of the resources available to each person calling. The purpose of this web page is to inform all health care providers of what to expect from the 911 call taker and educate them in what information will be needed so they may be better prepared prior to making that emergency call.

Calling 911 from within the Punta Gorda City limits

If you are a health care worker making a 911 call within the city limits of Punta Gorda, your phone call will be answered by an operator in the 911 center of the Punta Gorda Police Department. Once it has been determined a medical emergency exists, you will be transferred to the Charlotte County Public Safety Center where you will be interviewed so that a call for service can be processed and appropriate medical units dispatched to the location of the medical emergency. The Punta Gorda PD Operator will remain conferenced on the line until they have received enough information out of the interview to dispatch the Punta Gorda Fire Department of Punta Gorda Police if the situation requires a fire and police response in addition to an ambulance.

Calling 911 from the unincorporated area of Charlotte County

If you are a health care worker making a 911 call from any area of Charlotte County, outside the city of Punta Gorda, the 911 call will be directly routed to the Charlotte County 911 Public Safety Center. The public safety operator will interview you, process a call for service and the appropriate medical units will be dispatched along with fire and law enforcement services if the situation requires.

Operator Training

All 911 operators at the Charlotte County Public Safety Center and the Punta Gorda Police Department receive training in call handling for medical emergencies. Although, the PGPD 911 operators typically transfer the medical calls to the county 911 center, they also receive the training in medical call handling in case the need should arise to perform the medical interview and pre-arrival instructions during extenuating circumstances. Operators in both centers are trained in medical call handling using the Medical Priority Dispatch System. This Medical Priority Dispatch System has been used in the Charlotte County Public Safety Dispatch Center for over 19 years.

Medical Priority Dispatch System

The Medical Priority Dispatch System is a set of protocols that provide guidance to the 9-1-1 operator in the handling of medical calls. With the use of this type of medical dispatch system, each type of medical episode also known as a chief complaint prompts the 9-1-1 operator to ask a series of questions in a specific order during the interview of the caller. Depending on the caller’s response to that question, it may invoke additional questions to be asked by the operator.

After the initial questioning and enough information have been collected to process a call for service, the operator is prompted to ask additional questions that will provide useful information to the responding EMS units. Depending on the medical situation and at any time during the interview process, the operator may be required to provide medical care instructions, also known as pre-arrival instructions. These types of situations include CPR/Airway/Arrest, Choking, Childbirth, Bleeding Control, etc.

If the medical situation does not require the operator to remain on the line with the caller, the operator will, with the use of the designated protocols, provide additional instructions for the purposes of patient and location preparation prior to the EMS unit arrival. Some of these instructions may include, advising the caller not to provide the patient with anything to eat or drink, having the patient rest in a comfortable position, not to move the patient unless absolutely necessary, gathering medications, unlocking doors, etc. The questions may vary based on the location of the patient.

The 911 operators are required to follow all medical protocol instructions regardless of who is calling. 911 operators are unable to determine the level of experience of the callers and therefore will follow the same interview and instruction process for all callers.

Do’s and Don’ts when calling 911

Do’s

  1. Be calm
  2. Be patient
  3. Be prepared with exact location information, this includes the address; unit, suite, or room number, city, and cross street. (Cross street is the street that intersects with the street of which the emergency exists)
  4. Be prepared with the telephone number you are calling from. If you cannot be reached back at that number, please provide an alternate number.
  5. Be prepared to advise what the current medical problem is.
  6. Be prepared to provide the age of the patient if known.
  7. Be prepared to advise if consciousness and breathing status of the patient.
  8. Answer all questions to that the operator asks to the best of your ability.
  9. Tell the operator if you are a trained medical provider or another trained medical provider is already providing assistance to the patient and advise what type of treatment.

Example: I’m a registered nurse and trained in CPR. CPR is being provided at this time.

Don’ts

  1. Do not use medical terminology when speaking with 911 operators.
  2. Do not hang up until the operator advises you to.

The public safety operators of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Punta Gorda Police Department are here to provide 911 callers with the best possible service, ensuring that calls are received, processed and dispatched upon accurately and efficiently. Following the Medical Priority Dispatch System and your assistance will help us in meeting this goal.

Accidental 9-1-1 dials

If you should accidentally place a 9-1-1 call, do not hang up.  Instead, remain on the line and tell the operator that you accidentally dialed. You will need to answer a few questions to include the location you are calling from.

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