Tampa Tribune

Tampa Fire Rescue Dispatch Center One Of The Best
By VALERIE KALFRIN VKalfrin@tampatrib.com
Published: May 3, 2005

TAMPA -- Residents seeking help from Tampa Fire Rescue dispatchers are speaking to some of the most accredited professionals in the world.
The National Academy of Emergency Dispatch in Salt Lake City recently named the fire department's dispatch center a ``Center of Excellence'' for meeting more than 90 of its stringent criteria. Only nine other centers in Florida have achieved that honor, said fire communications manager Margaret Hamrick. Ninety-six centers worldwide have this accreditation, she said.

The requirements include dispatchers being 90 percent accurate in obtaining answers to key questions about the caller's location and nature of the emergency, and gleaning helpful information for paramedics such as the name and number of a treating physician and medications being taken. The center also must evaluate more than 3 percent of the 43,000 medical calls dispatched each year for quality assurance, Hamrick said.

Tampa Fire Rescue currently has 19 dispatchers, Hamrick said. They receive at least 50 hours of education monthly and are re-certified every two years.

The center received the accreditation on March 15, Hamrick said, but Mayor Pam Iorio and Fire Chief Dennis Jones personally congratulated the employees on Tuesday.

``It's phenomenal,'' Hamrick said. ``I could not have done it if everyone on the floor was not on board.''

Valerie Kalfrin