In one of the opening scenes of the disliked NBC series TRAUMA, the medics responding are wearing their headsets and suddenly begin speaking to the 911 caller.

“Oh, yeah…right…” was my first response too.

But think about it.  Imagine being finally able to put the caller in touch with someone other than the call taker.  What if the Paramedic or EMT responding was able to apply their education and experience to decide how the system will react to this patient.

It might become more efficient.

The call is received, the unit assigned, then the caller transferred to the practitioner assigned to respond.  They begin assembling facts that the little boxes of the priority dispatch and the untrained ears of the call taken can’t identify.

“OK, so you have asthma, but this doesn’t feel like an asthma attack, you just want some albuterol?” There is no code for that other than an asthma attack, but now we can downgrade the call and possibly save a life and time.  Who’s life?  Not the caller’s they’re fine.  But the responders now travelling with traffic reduces the risk of accident.  The call that may come in with CPR in progress can be triaged ahead now that we have a more accurate idea of what’s happening at the first call.

We’ve spent so much time designing systems to categorize, prioritize and automate dispatches we forgot to upgrade the callers and the call takers.  Instead of staffing dispatch with practitioners, why not just let me talk to the patient you’re about to hang up on anyway to meet your target time.

I can begin to establish if that little code even matches what’s going on, gage my response based on what the caller is telling me and save time in patient care for being ready for exactly what’s going on.


We could ditch the codes and just dispatch based on their chief complaint.

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