Making The Cut

Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Best Practices

Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Seems odd that some inside the medical profession initially debated the merits of emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs) when it came to providing prehospital care. EMDs were overlooked in the chain-of-survival and seldom recognized in the context of being emergency medical colleagues.

While the introduction of Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS®) Protocols helped shift EMD recognition, some still criticized a layperson’s (non-medical) ability to give potentially lifesaving pre-arrival instructions and, at the same time, send the most appropriate response.

The point they failed to see was the process involved.

From the very beginning of this now nearly 40-year journey, the Academy has stressed compliance to a protocol model: certification, training, continuing education, and quality improvement. Think of it in the way of a medical analogy. A doctor’s physical exam of a patient is part of a process intended for proper diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. The emergency dispatcher’s interrogation of a caller is actually part of an ALS process intended for proper chief complaint and response interventions.

This initial primary and secondary exam—whether hands-on or over-the-phone—must be based on a reliable, evidence-driven standard. Neither a medical doctor, nor an EMD, can afford to skip an evaluative step, no matter how evident the findings at first impression might seem. This takes an irrevocable process, shown over and over again, to separate those who perform well from those who should never make the cut, no matter what the task at hand.