February 25, 2014
By Shawn Messinger
Are you getting everything you want out of your Priority Dispatch System? Much like any other complex system, routine maintenance can go a long way in keeping things working at peak performance. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind us and spring approaching, now is a much-needed time to regroup.
For those not sure where to start, here are my suggested tune-up topics to help reboot your Priority Dispatch System.
ProQA and AQUA reports
When was the last time you pulled some of the very informative reports from your system? These reports can provide a wealth of information about how your communication center is really running. How long does it take us on average to complete Case Entry? How long is our average time to cue? Who is doing really well; who is struggling and where?
In working with center staff, they have a “feeling” about how things are going. These reports can help confirm those feelings. With this knowledge, any needed adjustments to training, policy, or procedure can be made based on data rather than emotion. Many centers are closer to ACE standards than they’ve imagined, and they might already have the documentation to prove it. If you’re already doing the work you might as well get credit for it.
Case evaluations and feedback
Do you have your quality assurance person in place, and is the person reviewing calls? If you have a quality improvement program, is it supported?
Case review and appropriate feedback are vital to a system and as important and comprehensive as the Priority Dispatch System. Case review lets you know how your staff is doing and provides the feedback valuable to performance.
No matter what model of QA you use, case review needs to be done in a timely fashion. If your QA person also has other duties in your center, help them to prioritize the workload by setting aside days solely for reviewing calls and make that known to your staff to keep distractions to a minimum.
In addition, your quality improvement personnel should be looking for ways to support staff in honing their skills and knowledge based on information gathered from case review.
Case review is also the ideal source for continuing dispatch education (CDE) based on the needs of a single person, a shift, or the entire center to maximize performance.
Do you have a Dispatch Review Committee and a Dispatch Steering Committee? If you do, are you still meeting and discussing call data, trends, and issues within the center? Meeting with representatives from the agencies you provide services for brings the various facets of public service together and allows for system changes based on a process, in an informed manner, and with contributions from all. A regular review of data, training model, and policies and procedures gives the opportunity to evaluate the entire call processing and dispatching system to ensure you’re providing the best service possible for those served. We may not always agree on everything but, in this way, everyone has a voice in the process.
So far, we have discussed case review, providing feedback to our staff, and meeting together to discuss issues and our call data. Now we can look at our response configurations. Are the appropriate levels of response still matching how you’re doing business today? Are we over, or under, sending on calls? Do we have adequate CADs to accurately portray an incident to our responders?
In working with centers, I have found that many have never gone back to make these tweaks or because of changes in staff or leadership, the knowledge of this process and how to carry it out has been lost.
Getting everything you want out of your Priority Dispatch System starts with you.
If you are having issues, these topics are a great place to start to get you back on track. And you’re not alone. If any of these topics sound foreign to you, or you just feel like you need help, contact the Academy and ask about how to get some assistance.