Critical Children’s Dispatch Elements Of EMS

Heather Darata

Heather Darata

Blast From The Past
Download PDF

In 1998—nearly 20 years after Emergency Medical Dispatch Protocol made its debut—a panel of nationally recognized Emergency Medical Dispatch experts met in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of EMD for children, gather expert opinion, and discuss direction for further development.
The panel of 16 participants included Dr. Jeff J. Clawson, inventor of the Medical Priority Dispatch System and founder of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch®, and Brian Dale, Priority Dispatch® President and then a captain with the Salt Lake City (Utah) Fire Department. The meeting was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Office of Emergency Medical Services. The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about the experiences of nationally recognized EMD experts, analyze data from a survey conducted by the Georgia Office of EMS, and answer the following questions: 

1.    Is our current EMD system capable of responding appropriately to 911 calls made by children and 911 calls about a sick or injured child?
2.    Is there a need for a specific pediatric dispatch card set?
3.    What are the greatest needs for further improvement of the nation’s EMD system?
4.    What are the barriers to further development of the EMD system?

A consensus position statement was released after the panel’s discussion of these four points. Surprisingly, due to the detailed and factual, data-supported testimony from the Academy participants, it was decided that a special pediatric dispatch protocol was not needed to handle either calls about child patients or emergency calls from children. Instead, the key takeaway from the meeting was that EMD, done correctly, would help children in all 911 situations covered by structured protocol. 

The consensus position statement outlines the following to provide the appropriate emergency care for children: 

•    Implementation and utilization of medically approved, standardized protocols that delineate the evaluation, dispatch services, information, and pre-arrival instructions provided to callers
•    Compliance to protocol with continuous case review by qualified personnel evaluating emergency dispatcher performance dealing with children both as callers and patients
•    Protocol that is reviewed by standards groups of experts in public safety and physicians with medical dispatch experience, including pediatricians
•    Research support to facilitate the examination of issues facing children as prehospital patients

What was outlined in the consensus position statement holds true today— 24 years later. To find out more, read the Emergency Medical Dispatch For Children article along with the consensus position statement, which appear together as Appendix J in the Principles textbook.