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Botetourt Launches Medical Priority Dispatch System

May 11, 2021

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Botetourt Launches Medical Priority Dispatch System

May 11, 2021 (Botetourt County, VA) – The Department of Fire & EMS, along with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center, is excited to announce the implementation of the Medical Priority Dispatch System™ to better serve the residents and visitors of Botetourt County in emergency situations.

With this new system, emergency dispatchers will follow nationally recognized standards and research-based protocols to identify life-threatening situations and to safely prioritize calls for response. The protocols guide emergency dispatchers through a series of questions they ask callers to identify the problems so they can send the correct help.

Emergency dispatchers will also use the questions to provide responders with accurate information so they can more effectively give care once they are on the scene. Additionally, with the MPDS®, emergency dispatchers can provide lifesaving and safety instructions to callers and patients before responders arrive. For example, by using the MPDS®, the emergency dispatcher can instruct a caller on performing CPR or delivering a baby.

“When a citizen in Botetourt County picks up the phone and calls 911 to report a medical emergency every second counts,” said Sheriff Matt Ward”. “I am confident the training and enhancements of the Priority Dispatch System will provide our staff with the tools needed to help save lives. I am grateful to the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors and Chief Jason Ferguson for their commitment in providing this service to the citizens of Botetourt County.”

“It is exciting to see the advancement in the capabilities of our Emergency Communications Center. While EMD isn’t new to Botetourt County, this new system is an excellent opportunity to better utilize our resources and provide the most appropriate response to those in need. This couldn’t come at a better time,” explained Board of Supervisors Chair, Dr. Mac Scothorn.

The Priority Dispatch System™ includes ProQA® software and/or card sets, a three-day certification training course for emergency dispatchers, and continual quality improvement (QI) benchmarks and training. All emergency dispatchers who work on the new system are certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® and must recertify every two years, complete 24 hours of continuing dispatch education (CDE) and pass all requirements for IAED recertification.

Proactive quality improvement (QI) benchmarks are an important part of the PDS. Use of this system will allow Botetourt County emergency dispatchers to assess the quality of the care they provide their communities, allowing them to make positive adjustments to training and staff in response to these assessments.

“At the IAED, our goal is to help the emergency dispatcher do his or her job better,” said Dr. Jeff Clawson, Chair, Rules Committee for the IAED Medical Council of Standards. “This system increases safety and effectiveness for the first responders and creates better outcomes for callers.”

The constantly evolving PDS will help provide the highest standard of care to the community, allowing Emergency Medical Dispatchers to better manage limited resources and increase the accuracy and efficiency of the dispatching process.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to advance beyond previous manual processes and have a more up-to-date program that quickly and effectively guides our dispatchers through the call to reach a prompt and more accurate result for sending the appropriate units,” said ECC Supervisor Nicole Manspile.

The Botetourt ECC is the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all emergency calls in Botetourt County. Each year the center receives over 19,000 emergency calls from both landline and cellular callers via 911.

Chief of Fire & EMS Jason Ferguson says that, “This initiative began over two years ago, with our Medical Director leading the charge for change.” Agency Medical Director Dr. Carol Bernier has been an advocate of revisions to local EMD processes for the betterment of services throughout the region. “In my experience, MPDS triages calls to ensure a balanced response using facts and data to drive decision-making. Not every call needs a paramedic, nor a lights and sirens response. This tool will allow better utilization of resources in an area like Botetourt, ensuring better service, delivery, and hopefully better outcomes.”

The implementation of this program is also part of a grant funded by the Virginia Office of

Emergency Medical Services. A grant for fifty percent of the overall initial costs was funded in July 2020