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  1. #1
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    Default Poll: Training the dispatchers

    I guess I'm in the minority on this poll, as most have answered yes. I can pretty much understand the EMS part, but why should dispatchers be forced to learn the science of fire, go through hose mazes, learn to tie all the knots, etc. to be able to dispatch fire departments out to calls?


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I answered no to this poll. I feel that it is not necessary for a fire alarm dispatcher to be certified FF1 especially if they will never see the inside of a structure fire.

    I do believe, however, that they should do some ride along time with the companies to see what it's like on the "other end" of the radio transmissions. I also believe that company officers shold do observation time at Fire Alarm to see what goes on there.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Forum Member Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    I took a very interesting and informative senario based course called Public Safety Critical Incident Management. The course dealt with the management of large scale incidents utilizing all resources available. The nice part of this course was that it wasnt only FFs taking the course, we had State police, local law enforcement, Fire, EMS, and dispatchers all as STUDENTS in the class.
    The majority of the class time involved a table top model of a city and senarios were carried out within this model. The students were placed in varying roles ie; dispatchers as fire command, police as EMS, EMS as police, etc. Everyone was given the same set of priorities to acheive incident stabilization. Some of the senarios had police as the primary agency, some were EMS. If there were tactical decisions to be made the IC could appoint an assistiant to make the recommendations.
    The reason I mention this class, is the dispatchers were sent to the class to gain a better understanding of the environment of a incident scene, their responsiveness improved noticiably when class was over.
    So do I believe that dispatchers need fire science, and crawling through mazes, no, but I do think they need a taste of what goes on at a scene so they understand when the person on the other end of the radio sounds like they are screaming at them.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Forum Member VinnieB's Avatar
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    I would agree with the EMS CROs and RDs being trained as EMTs.
    I don't believe Fire Alram Dispatchers should learn what Fire2123 adds. They should however learn the operations aspect...unlike EMT CRO/RD who provide life saving steps during calls....I can't see Fire Alarm Dispatchers telling a caller of how to fight fires...unless its telling them to close the doors and windows if they can....
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  5. #5
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    I'm with Gonzo. Dispatchers need to know how fire scenes work. They also need to understand how EMS scenes work. for example, if you are a BLS EMS unit, and you call for an ALS unit, a dispatcher might not understand why you would need to know the ALS unit's number and location they are responding from. or if you are on a domestic, and you need PD there, and dispatch isn't responding when you call for help.

    fire scenes are the same way. a dispatcher might not realize that you have a dispatch frequency and a fireground frequency. and that when you are operating at a worker, the chief has 95 things to deal with, and he might be preoccupied with men inside a building to answer the dispatcher (not that it's right, but that there is a reason).

    likewise, field personnel should understand what happens when you are "chained to the desk." what it's like to have to deal with Fire, Police and EMS. how you can go from sitting around watching TV to having 3 911 lines ringing at once. and you are supposed to answer all of them. it's all about learning how the other side does things.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a class called EMD? Emergency Medical Dispatcher? And that it's a varient of EMT-B, based around telling someone how to do something rather than doing it yourself?

    Why not require that and a "EFD" class or Emergency Fire Dispatcher. Where the dispatcher is trained in basic fire science, "protocol" type stuff to direct callers with stuff like fire extinguisher use (you know their gonna try, so might as well know how to tell them to do it right?), and fire ground operations. Maybe as part of that last item you can include ride alongs or such like the Captain and others have suggest, to better explain what we do on the "pointy end" of the response.

    (edited for spelling)
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    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by roadkill
    correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a class called EMD? Emergency Medical Dispatcher? And that it's a varient of EMT-B, based around telling someone how to do something rather than doing it yourself?
    you would be wrong. EMD stand for Emergency Medical Dispatcher. it requires no EMS knowledge. It involves a call taker recieving a call, reading from a card at to which of the 20 something catagories does it fit into best (chest pain, breathing problems, sick person, unknown, etc). then, the calltaker reads word for word from the card, giving the caller directions on what to do.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

  8. #8
    Forum Member VinnieB's Avatar
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    Yes Roadkill there is such a course. I was a FDNY/EMS dispatcher in Brooklyn and I took the course...One for Call Receiving Operator and then Radio Dispatcher. Its a two part class (in NYC) along w/ 5 other OFT courses. Tracking, Fire Liasion, Diversion, MARS and Relay. The lesson includeds fire operations and MCI operation. (MCIs are a common event in NYC...appox 5-10 a day and many times Multiples at one time.) The system works great too. The only one MAJOR flaw is that we need to use a phone to contact Fire Suppression when all we do to PD is send a CAD message....EMS and FD are not linked were as EMS and PD are...., but its in the process of changing.

    We used to discuss this matter over the kitchen table when on break and everyone agreed that its not a good Idea to have a EFD because you'll put the caller in danger which could add victims to a fire...handling an extingusher sounds easy enough, but to instruct a person over the phone in a hot smokey environment when their adrenaline pumping, "just ain't gonna work"....Its hard enough to explain to someone how to do CPR over the phone, but they are not in danger of becoming victims themselves (for the most part) and anyone can apply direct pressure to a wound....but not everyone can operate an extingusher. And how would you handle a second party caller? He sees the fire...are we going to give him instructions on how to fight the fire?...It puts him and others in grave danger...and that person will most likley leave the front door open and make things worse for us. I also see having EFD as a serious liability issue...I can definatley see some hot shot lawyer grilling an EFD on the chair about how he told the civilian w/ no FF training to enter the building and fight the fire....just some of my thoughts though.
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    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    There is a program for Fire Dispatchers that is put on by Medical Priority, who is the major player in the EMD program.......... I have the EMD for my full-time job, but have not taken the Fire class, because we just dispatch EMS. I don't believe they would tell people to put themselves in harms way. I'm thinking a lot of the course/card system is information gathering, exposure problems, occupied or not and where are the occupants located, hazards, etc.

    I do have to say that the local "big city" department has their Fire Dispatchers call back the phone number for fires, even if it is a first party caller, which I think is insane.........

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber Engine58's Avatar
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    Fortunatley where I work 3 of the 5 dispatchers are Firefighters & 2 are EMTs but all have EMS backround on volunteer squads. I see reasoning behind requiring EMT so that you may better triage a call I know being an EMT has helped me triage calls a little better but I still send out the appropriate response as per the protocols. It just helps me relay better information to the responding units. As for firefighting yes I agree that there should be some type of ride along program for dispatchers but to make them go through a full blown FF1 course doesnt make sense. Your 911 course should include what types of apparatus a fire dept has and tells you to familiarize yourself with your emergency services so when you have to dispatch or request something you know what your talking about at least my class did.
    Andrew
    Firefighter/EMT
    New Jersey

  11. #11
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    ok, so maybe EMD needs to be expanded.

    And maybe fire extinguishers was a bad example. How about hotel/high rise MFD shelter in place against fire protocols as a better example.

    Basicly what I'm saying is there is no need for dispatchers to go through the full fire/ems training those in the field need. If they want to, go get 'em. But there are also dispatchers who are dispatchers because for health reasons they cannot work in the field, but still want to do their part, making them do FF1/EMTB would put that group out of work.
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  12. #12
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Originally posted by roadkill
    ok, so maybe EMD needs to be expanded.

    And maybe fire extinguishers was a bad example. How about hotel/high rise MFD shelter in place against fire protocols as a better example.

    Basicly what I'm saying is there is no need for dispatchers to go through the full fire/ems training those in the field need. If they want to, go get 'em. But there are also dispatchers who are dispatchers because for health reasons they cannot work in the field, but still want to do their part, making them do FF1/EMTB would put that group out of work.
    Where I dispatch (a County EMS) the EMD is required, but we are also REQUIRED to have at a minimum of EMT-B. I agree, because it helps you understand WHY you do certain things, instead of just because you're supposed to. However, there are only really 2 out of the 13 people that still actually PRACTICE EMS in the field (me and Weruj1). Sometimes it gets us in trouble, but then again, I wish I could make my OWN set of cards to use for people who DO have experience in the field. The EMD cards are meant for the average Joe with no previous experience......

  13. #13
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    I don't think that dispatchers should be FFI. They don't need to know the 304 ways there are to roll hose or the best way to search a room. What they do need to learn are the processes and operations we use to respond to emergencies.

    They need to be reminded that a police car can't put out a fire. They should know why we need to send so many people for just a "small" fire. They must understand why we're sending a fire engine on those EMS runs.

    We have thousands of folks out there serving as a lifeline to firefighters who have never (a) been in a fire engine, (b) seen fireground operations up-close, (c) began to understand the full scope of what we do. A "dispatcher's introduction to firefighting" class is much needed.

    The following are all true stories...

    >A dispatcher sends a single engine company (in a combo. FD) to a reported structure fire at CITY HALL because he "didn't want to bother the volunteers" unless he absolutely had to.

    >A caller reports a man unconscious in the street. The dispatcher sends to police car to see if it's a real emergency before dispatching fire & ambulance. The police officers arrived to find that it was a real emergency and requested fire & ambulance.

    >Callers report heavy smoke in their neighborhood. Dispatch sends a police car to investigate. The police officer says that it's from a nearby lumber yard and returns to service. Moments later, callers report a fully involved house fire -- the actual source of smoke.

    >A dispatcher answers 911, transfers medical calls to the regional ambulance and then begins compiling his incident report before dispatching a fire engine for an EMS run.

    >Citizen calls and simply says, "I need an ambulance." Dispatch transfers call to ambulance service and never notifies fire department of EMS run. When asked why, "they said they only needed an ambulance."

  14. #14
    Forum Member cellblock's Avatar
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    While I don't feel our 911 center dispatchers need to be certified EMTs or FF1 I do think they should have SOME training. I often wonder if English is a second language to some of the dispatchers I hear. Dispatches like-
    "Be enroute to (address) for a dialysis patient having trouble." ...Trouble? ... What sort of trouble. When an EMS call comes in the patient is 3 way connected with our ALS transport service, Acadian Ambulance. So our dispatcher is listening to the complaint from the caller and knows some of what is happening. So why are we getting such vauge dispatches. What Trouble??!??
    Here's one I heard this week paged out to a neighboring district-
    "First Responders, I need you 10-8 to (address) for a 10 month old who has gotten ahold of some bleach."
    Gotten a hold of. Not swallowed. Not ingested. Not poured it over his head or dropped it in the toilet. Gotten ahold of. The dispatcher repeated the page twice. WHAT THE HECK IS 'GOTTEN AHOLD OF'?
    It gets worse and I'm sure there are hundreds of stories just like that. We don't need Paragods or Rescue Rangers answering the 911 center phones but give me a break. What I'm saying is, for Petes sake, if you have someone working as a dispatcher at least make sure they have something between their ears besides oatmeal. Please. For me?
    Thanks,
    Cellblock
    P.S.
    I just read Cozmosis's post and have heard nearly the exact same calls happen here. police sent to check if it's a 'real' emergency. First Responder s not sent cause "they asked only for an ambulance". Deja vu.
    Last edited by cellblock; 08-09-2004 at 09:00 PM.

  15. #15
    Forum Member VinnieB's Avatar
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    Here in NYC the FDNY trains its Fire Alarm Dispatchers well. They have to do a ride along w/ a Battalion Chief before they are sent assigned to a Borough Office. They are well versed in Fire Command Operations. There are Radio Dispatchers, Desicion Dispatchers, Assignement Receivers, and a Citywide Tour Commander, to name a few. These dispatchers are not uniformed members of the FDNY, unlike EMS, they are civilians, but I know for a fact that the senior FA dispatcher "buffs" w/ Ladder 33 in the Bronx. On the EMS side only EMTs fufill the all the dispatching functions, except in certin cases for EMT-P that are on light duty or reasonable accomidation. We also have a Tour Commander who is a Captain, and 2-4 Lieutenants, depending on the schedule, 2 are Dispatcher Officers and 1 is the CRO/ARD section officer. Plus during the day we would also have the Company Commander (Cpt) and his aide, and the Communications Chief, but he is in HQ not in the center.

    ARD/CRO use the "cardex" system to triage....BUT after 1 week of working as an ARD/CRO you memorize it because on average 3000+ runs come in to the center in a 24 hour period,,,usually 75-150 run are handled per ARD/CRO in the 5 hours that you sit...(8 hour days, but with breaks) so one gets plenty of exposure to the "cardex".
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    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    From the sounds of some of these stories.... the question isn't whether dispatchers need firefighting training..... it's whether their current training is adequate?? I fail to understand how anyone could make such mistakes as being aired here without repurcussion from their workplace? Don't your departments set strict guidelines for response? Dispatch only a police car for an unconscious person in the street? If a suspected cardiac arrest (or any other event) pops on my screen I know that within 28 seconds I will have had to enroute an EMR capable firetruck and an ALS and BLS ambulance.... If I don't my *** is grass.

    How long are the training courses for your dispatchers? Mine is 6 months long before I am certified to sit on my own....

    Do dispatchers need indepth fire training? hell no. Do they need indepth training, hell yes.

  17. #17
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    I would love to see this happen......Will it? I don't think so Look at some of the dispatchers out there and the pay rate they get. For dispatchers to be trained like this would require municipalities to part with their beloved dollars.

  18. #18
    Forum Member VinnieB's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dave1105
    If a suspected cardiac arrest (or any other event) pops on my screen I know that within 28 seconds I will have had to enroute an EMR capable firetruck and an ALS and BLS ambulance.... If I don't my *** is grass.

    How long are the training courses for your dispatchers? Mine is 6 months long before I am certified to sit on my own....

    Do dispatchers need indepth fire training? hell no. Do they need indepth training, hell yes.
    We have the same response....just as long as there are units avalible..Segment 1,2, and 3 get ALS, BLS, and a CFR Engine. If the primary CFR Engine is unavailable then you don't get one...same w/ PD if they are available then one is sent...but that depends on the NYPD dispatcher...if the paitent is 10-83 (dead) and Not removed we have to wait for an RMP (radio motor patrol) to show up before we can leave...if the pt is being worked...then PD can meet us at the hospital.

    The second part about training...my CRO/ARD class was about 76 hours and the RD (radio dispatcher) was 120 hours of classroom instruction. And about 2 weeks of phone time as an ARD/CRO and about a month of radio time. The day that I certified as a CRO/ARD I had 5 back to back cardiac arrests including 1 infant...3 were saves, including the infant...later that day I was assigned to the MCI tracking/notifications desk....the same day the Staten Island Ferry Crashed into the pier....My instructor came up to me with the Company Commander and qualified me right on the spot and add the Fire Liasion Desk to my duties for the rest of the tour...we were caught during tour change and we had alot of "bang-ins"..so we were a bit short...The Manhattan South Dispatcher look over at me and nonshalantly said "welome to chaos central"....Now I had been an EMT in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens and it's busy out there but I never relised HOW BUSY it can get in central dispatch In the streets you only have to worry about your radio board...At Central everyone has to be aware of everyones radio board....
    Last edited by VinnieB; 08-10-2004 at 12:29 PM.
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  19. #19
    Forum Member FiftyOnePride's Avatar
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    I believe the only mandatory training for the job that our dispatchers go through is either EMD or a variant. Plus the general dispatcher training.

    Luckily though, like 80% of the dispatchers are either FF's, Officers, or EMT's with departments in the county.

    From what I have heard from talking with them, it helps to understand whats going on over the radio, as well as the telephone.
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  20. #20
    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    We have the same response....just as long as there are units avalible..Segment 1,2, and 3 get ALS, BLS, and a CFR Engine. If the primary CFR Engine is unavailable then you don't get one
    Just OOI, what is Segment 1 2 and 3?? and as we are caring and sharing :P We still dispatch an engine even if the primary is unavail..

    The second part about training...my CRO/ARD class was about 76 hours and the RD (radio dispatcher) was 120 hours of classroom instruction. And about 2 weeks of phone time as an ARD/CRO and about a month of radio time
    As you are so specific....

    Just for Fire Calltaking/Dispatching (Including basic EMR response, however no specific ambulace calltaking/disatpching).... We do 400 hours of class room time. (6 x 40 hour weeks calltaking, 4 x 40 hour weeks dispatching). 160 Hours of mentor("buddy") operating (2 x 40 hour weeks for each calltaking and dispatching)..... and another 400 hours of remote monitored operating (200 for each)......

    If you then add Ambulance dispatch/calltaking onto that, its the same amount of class room time, however the mentored time and monitored time is reduced (As you are already an experienced operator, they basically just check you are okay and let you loose)..

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