New Tool Evaluates Radio Dispatch Performance

Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Best Practices

The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED) is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to making your communication center ready for whatever affects the dispatch process.

First, it was the protocol and structured call processing. Medical, followed by fire and police, and their associated random and focused case review came later. Now the IAED offers an established structured approach to radio dispatch. This includes Minimum Performance Standards and Performance Reports, and all of this is contained in a new version of AQUA®, which is web-based.

The Radio Dispatch Performance Standards are a stand-alone tool (separate from protocol) specifically designed to adapt to any agency’s dispatch process, including technology and discipline-specific workflows, according to Brian Dale, IAED Associate Director of Medical and Quality Control and (retired) Salt Lake City (Utah) Fire Department Chief.

“They do not require a review of the emergency call to review the radio performance for any given incident,” Dale said. "They establish a general review of expected performance in any discipline of emergency dispatch where incidents rely upon continual radio communication.” 

Plus, the standards serve as a double-check for having the appropriate policy and procedural documents in place and aligned to the expected workflows. Ideally, the standards can lead to an agency’s decision to write additional policy or procedural documents to produce a more complete performance expectation for their staff functioning in any aspect of responder communications.

They do not impact accreditation (ACE) and are not IAED mandated. Certification requires an online four-hour training course for any currently certified ED-Q.  

The expectation is a coordination between the IAED Universal Standards and the agency’s existing performance expectations and/or policies.

Radio Performance Standards have long been on a short list of projects to help agencies review already established radio procedures in a structured format, Dale said.

“The standards accentuate what many agencies are already doing,” Dale explained. “They are just a more advanced tool they can use to ensure everything is done right.”

The standards reflect what the IAED does best: structure and consistency in the approach to review radio communications and establish the expected minimum performance of personnel involved in dispatching and managing emergency resources. They provide a clear picture of a communication center’s compliance to established industry standards and agency policy and procedural expectations.

The reviews, in a structured format, determine the effectiveness of emergency dispatchers’ tools and measure the quality of all communication systems in a dispatch center, Dale said. The data collected can be directed to flow through multiple channels and serve as a foundation for training, procedural changes, and an ongoing quality management program.

“This data applies not only to the radio dispatcher, but also to supervisors, first responders, and managers of the communication center,” Dale said. “And, like all QA review, it’s intended to improve overall system performance.”

The specifics

There are seven performance categories (31 individual standards) that are evaluated during incident review.

  1. Universal Standards that can apply to multiple disciplines (medical, fire, and police)
  2. Customer service
  3. Initial incident information about the type of incident and safety risks
  4. Additional information not included in the initial incident radio traffic
  5. Broadcasting Description Essentials information and/or the interpretation of diagnostic information
  6. Broadcasting specific instructions given to the caller so responders know what actions have been taken to stabilize the scene
  7. Extremely critical or potentially critical communication

Performance is rated similarly to the process used in protocol performance review. All deviations are weighed from the minimum standards and categorize the level of training needed based on the deviation’s potential impact to the system.


A student must be certified in one of the current ED-Q disciplines and once certified in radio standards will acquire the EDR-Q credential. There are no plans to mandate a recertification process. The certification is maintained through their other ED-Q certifications.

The Radio Performance Standards are planned for release at the same time as AQUA Version 8 (Spring 2022).