1. #1
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    Default 1 minute dispatch

    We are having difficulty getting the dispatch center to get calls put out in less than 1 minute. In fact the majority of them are put out in 3 minutes. Yesterday 5 minutes. When I called the 911 director he told me they shoot for 2-3 minutes. Can someone give me a location or link for the standards that suggest 1 minute

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    IIRC .............there is an NFPA standard for turnout times ...........if it is not from NFPA then check ISO. In terms of the call taker/dispatcher sending a unit from the time they get a "mask" if thats more than a minute.............thats BS !
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    Give calls out in less then a minute? Bad, bad idea. (Generally speaking) You'll decrease the quality of the call to start with, and then your forcing the Telecommunicators to focus more on the clock then on getting the correct info from the caller. This is not to mention that many callers are uncooperative and plain just don't know what the hell their talking about or where their at..... Having said that, 5 minutes IS too long...

    Additionally, each call is totally different then another. I would dispatch a house fire in much under 1 minute, assuming I can get a location from the caller. You can't force a generic call processing time on every call that comes into a 911 center, it's unrealistic and unfair. Your setting people up for failure.

    Why is it non-Telecommunicators try to make stupid rules for Telecommunicators? Confounds the mind...
    Last edited by MrJim911; 11-08-2005 at 12:32 AM.

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    Calls should be dispatched as soon as they're received.....Even w/o all the nesessary information. A Fire Nature Unknown is a decent way to get the equipment started until all the information is in.

    Same applies to Medical Emergencies....We use Priority Medical Still on the line which actually starts equipment towards the scene until additional information is received and the units are updated. --- To delay a call 2-3 minutes just to gain all the information is a waste of time. 9-1-1 call ....get the equipment going ASAP

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    I have been a dispatcher for the last 6 years and a volunteer firefighter/emt for 13 years and I can say in a Computer Aided Dispatch center with enough personnel, 60-90 seconds is not that much. And not unrealistic.

    With that being said, you have to take in a few considerations:

    1. Does the caller know where they are? That is half the problem. Alot of people in confusion don't call 911 from their home phone, so finding where they are is a chore.

    2. What kind of call it is. This should be learned in the first few seconds of the call. I don't want to send fire units to a heart attack unless it is a BLS or ALS pumper. And I don't want to send ambulance crews to a structure.

    3. Is your department CAD or paper? This tends to add a few seconds to a call if on paper. With my current dispatch center, we take the call, process and send to fire radio operator. The fire radio operator takes a few seconds to let CAD recognize the units that should respond, tone out appropriate stations and then get them out.

    4. Staffing in Comm Center - Does your comm center have the appropriate staffing levels to do this? During certain slow hours our comm center reduces personnel to 2 people, a police radio operator and a fire operator. The fire operator also takes calls, so they have to take the call, get "pertinent" information and dispatch units. Notice I said pertinent. After pertinent information is obtained, then send the units and get further if there is time.

    The city I dispatch for has an average arrival time of 2-3 minutes from tones so we don't do EMD or pre-arrival instructions.

    Now the Sheriff's office that dispatches my volunteer department is a different story. They do everything on paper and will answer a deputy calling a traffic stop before they dispatch a house fire. It is all about who pays thier salary.

    There are certain situations where 3-5 minutes could be realistic, but it should be the exception not the rule. Most calls should go out within 1-2 minutes with no problem.

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    There are two scenarios here.

    "I'm at 123 Main Street and my husband is having a heart attack."
    "There is a car fire at the south bend gas station in the parking lot."
    "I'm reporting and activated fire alarm 123 Main Street."

    There isn't any other information you need to initially dispatch units to the call. It should not take 3-5 minutes to dispatch a typical incident like this. The location is known. The nature is known. Dispatch the units and talk to the caller some more after you hang up the mic if needed.


    "Umm, I'm on that highway with the big trees and I think there is an accident"
    "HELP ME PLEASE! I NEED HELP! OH MY GOD! AHHHHHH!
    "I think my neighbors alarm is going off but I don't know which one or where"

    These can take some time to acertain where the incident is and what it is. It is with great exception you'll here me dispatch units to respond to something somewhere but we know what or where. That's kidna pointless. I would expect the dispatcher to find out the details we need before responding which in certain cases could very well be 3-5 minutes worth of interogation. This however shouldn't be the norm.


    Allow me to give an example of the "great exception". Several years ago, our dispatcher received a 911 from a hysterical woman. She was screaming "give me back my baby" or something along those lines. She was unable to say what the problem was because she was too hysterical. The only thing the dispatcher had was the ALI so they knew the address. The only thing she could do was the "Oh Crap" button. Simultaneous dispatch police, fire, & ambulance and told them all exactly what she knew. Hysterical caller, unknown emergency. It turned out to be a pediatric code with some other really ugly cercumstances that aren't important here.

    The point being, you have to adapt to whatever the call happens to be. Getting the incident dispatched in a minute or so is perfectly reasonable for many of them. *Sometimes* it will take longer than that, its just a fact of life. And sometimes no matter what you do, you will never have enough information.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I'll chime in also as someone with prior experience "flying the desk". In my case (and it is still this way) the department I worked for was a police department that also dispatched for three fire departments, two of these also ran EMS while the city itself had a free standing EMS department. All of this was handled by ONE dispatcher. Along with answering the phones and radios, we also handeled the walk-ins at the front entrance, controled the access doors to the building, monitored the city maintenance channel, ran computer records checks for officers on traffic stops and all of the robbery and intrusion alarms in town. And, when we were not busy, we would file reports, type our log sheets and enter arrest records.

    We did all of this, and a few other odds and ends that came along where the dispatcher was the only person available to deal with them. In that environment, we were pleased to be able to get the tones activated in 2-3 minutes. Sometimes we got them out faster, and sometimes it took longer. The reasons mentioned previously played into this, as well as the priority of responsibility in the radio room. If you have a phone ringing and someone calling on the radio, the radio gets priority... You have to look out for the units on the road first before you can protect the public. As with all parts of this job, you take care of your own first so that they can take care of others. It can be a massive juggling act sometimes to prioritize what gets your attention in what order.

    So, I dount that there is a "standard" on time from call received until time dispatched since there are so many variables involved. If there is any place that might have some guidelines, it might be the Association of Public Safety Communications Officals (APCO). If nothing else, it is a place to start looking.
    Richard Nester
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    1 minute before they call you? Damn... generally they call us during the call or the second they get off the phone... ive heard 2 calls come in and you can hear the phone ringing in the background as the dispatcher calls for ap olice unit to respond also, then we hear the 2nd call come in over air as well.,
    Adam, EMT-B

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    WOW...Some of these times are nuts. I think our county dispatches average is around 20 seconds. Why in the world do you need all the information BEFORE you dispatch the rigs? All you need to know is type of call (FD, PD or EMS) and the address, the rest can be obtained and then relayed to the rigs while they are enrout.
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    Uh, probably because I am not going to let a EMS unit enter a shooting scene with the shooter still there.

    But, that goes back to my original post, what kind of dispatch center do you have, how many are on duty, how many phone operators, how many radio operators, etc?

    For most calls, the scenarios above described what to expect. If they know what they need and where they are, it is not a problem to get a unit out within 45-60 seconds, though I have a hard time with 20 seconds. Maybe 20 seconds after the radio operator gets the call. Remember there is a difference between when the reciever is actually picked up to the time the first unit is notified. We are talking about that total time, not the time from when the radio operator gets the call to dispatch.

    It takes at a minimum of 20-30 seconds to get nature of call and address. If it is a true emergency stamp the call, add the rest of the information later. If it is grandma fell out of bed and is not hurt just needs help getting back into bed, then copy all the information, because you have another call the take care of. We can normally stamp a call with all information within 45-55 seconds with the radio operator taking about 5-10 to tone out stations depending on how many units go.

    A fully involved structure takes 60 seconds to go through all the tones before you even put your voice on the radio. But if they know where they are, or call 911 from their house, then it can be stamped in less than 30 seconds.

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    And all of us are making good points... This shows why you cannot have a generic time requirement. Each call is different because of a multitude of varying factors that can affect the process time of a call.

    Every agency should have a Call Review Committee that sits down on a regular basis and reviews random calls or specific calls requested by an agency so that discussions can take place about how to improve policies or talk with people that need to work on their call taking/dispatching skills. This also gives the FD reps that attend the meetings a chance to see how their field units are doing.

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    It comes down to the call, your dispatch center, the person sending out the tones and announcement(because let's face not everyone processes information the same, some slower some faster). There are so many mitigating circumstances you could give yourself stroke trying to figure it out. What it doesnt come down to is training, training, training. If your department doesn't invest in a little your going to get what you pay for, high turnover, low moral, and overall lack of concern. The area I work for takes great steps in including the communications personnel in getting them out with the firefighters and police letting them know what really goes on out there and why it is so important for you to get those tones out or that mutual aid request sent or contacting another LE agency for help. Because let's face it as communications chances are we won't be the ones getting hurt if we F*** up. This is a very impersonal job and what I mean by that is we work in two medium communications, we hear and we talk, we don't see, feel, smell what is going on out there so if you don't get your people out there your going have a room of senseless people. And open your doors let the firefighters and cops and dispatchers interact a little.

    I am still pretty new to this forum but it seems like a lot of problems with L.E. dispatchers and fire departments. What ever happened to prioritizing a call? I work in a combined dispatch center and believe me if a house fire comes in I could care less what a cop just gave a ticket someone for. That fire is getting toned out yesterday. There is a reverse to that if I have a pursuit and your calling in service going to quarters after leaving the hospital well sorry I might miss you the first time.

    So with that said have all your calls dispatched in 20 seconds or else

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemedic8107
    Uh, probably because I am not going to let a EMS unit enter a shooting scene with the shooter still there. .
    Ummm, we dont either.

    Follow along...

    Disp: 911, what is your emergency?
    Caller: A guy just got shot.
    Disp: (While entering the nature code in the CAD) OK, you are calling from 123 Main St?
    Caller: Yes
    Disp: (hits send on his keyboard, printer at station starts going off, followed by tones & digital page) help is on the way. Do you know where the shooter is?
    Caller: I think he's in the house (call info sent to PD dispatch, second digital page sent to advise EMS to stage for PD)
    Disp: Are you with the patient?
    Caller: Yes (call transfers to EMS dispatch for EMD instructions)

    Disp: Rescue 3 responding?
    R3: Rescue 3 enrout.
    Disp: Rescue 3, you have a report of someone shot, caller advised shooter still on scene, stage for PD.
    R3: Rescue 3 copies stage for PD.

    Note: EMS dispatch continues to obtain information and this is relayed real time to the field units.

    Took about as long as it took to read the post (unless your a real slow reader).
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    Big mistake prompting the caller as to what the address is. You ask the caller what address they're at and let them give it to you to confirm that is what is on the ANI/ALI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    Big mistake prompting the caller as to what the address is. You ask the caller what address they're at and let them give it to you to confirm that is what is on the ANI/ALI.
    Im not a dispatcher, so please explain to me why that is a big mistake. I dont know if our dispatchers ask, my post was a guess on how it works.
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    I'll use your example as that was a good one, but the same applies to any high stress incident and even non-emergent calls. If a guy is calling in a shots fired, chances are they are pretty excited, experiencing an adrenaline rush, etc... By asking the caller questions your forcing them to listen to you and think about they're answers. However, because of their current physical and emotional state if you provide an answer for them (like prompting in your example), they may just agree with it by saying yes because their goal as a caller is just to get someone there quick and answering my questions regardless if they are correct or not is the best way to do that. You always have to confirm with the caller the location they are calling from including address and town. I like your example, but it's worth the extra couple of seconds to make the caller give you the address so chances are we are sending you to the correct address; not to mention it's a huge liability issue for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim911
    I'll use your example as that was a good one, but the same applies to any high stress incident and even non-emergent calls. If a guy is calling in a shots fired, chances are they are pretty excited, experiencing an adrenaline rush, etc... By asking the caller questions your forcing them to listen to you and think about they're answers. However, because of their current physical and emotional state if you provide an answer for them (like prompting in your example), they may just agree with it by saying yes because their goal as a caller is just to get someone there quick and answering my questions regardless if they are correct or not is the best way to do that. You always have to confirm with the caller the location they are calling from including address and town. I like your example, but it's worth the extra couple of seconds to make the caller give you the address so chances are we are sending you to the correct address; not to mention it's a huge liability issue for us.
    Ok...that makes sense. Thanks.

    Like I said, Im not sure exactly what our line of questioning is, it was just a guess. But our comm center is pretty state of the art, so Im sure they do it the right way.

    I know we have the system that brings up the callers address automaticly (cant think of what its called) and theve had a new thing put in (about 6 months ago) that they can even get a location from a cell phone (GPS?). Its cool. They had a guy calling in false alarms one night and when the same number poped up for the 3rd time, they got his cell location and PD picked him up.
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    The dispatch agency I work for has a maximum of 30 seconds for the calltaker to have the call entered into CAD, and another maximum 30 seconds for the dispatcher to attach the appropriate units and start the voice alert. This doesn't mean the calltaker has to have EVERYTHING on the call in a half a minute - it means they must have a call type and verified address. And you can't just throw up an "unknown fire" call type as soon as you get the address off ANI/ALI - another local agency does something similar to that, and it's going to burn them someday.

    60 seconds total is not at all impossible nor unrealistic. And it's a far cry from the 7 minutes that the previous dispatch agency used to do for the area I volunteer in. (Their "dispatcher" answered calls via a phone-patch on a portable radio, took minimal details with no standardized questioning, and had to go to their fire station to make the phone call to set off our pagers, because they weren't willing to make a toll (long distance) call on their own dime.
    --jay.

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    The GPS is a great enhancement in ANI/ALI operations of a 911 center. The problem is you have to have a GPS phone, which not alot of people have, and they must have it enabled. Most of your false calls are going to be from disconnected cells and then they are not going to have GPS. You can triangulate off the towers locations and get a general area, but you are not going to get an exact location and if you do, you will need to keep them on the phone if they are moving.

    I think the general idea is that you can't standarize times for calls, different scenarios give you different results.

    Same as fires and rescues, every call will take a different approach.

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    Our office strives to get a call on the air within 60 seconds. We have at least 1 dedicated calltaker and one voice alarm dispatcher on duty at all times. We cover three municipalities, approximately 75,000 (we're fire/EMS only) persons. If it will take some time to get an assignment together (large fire), we at least pre-alert the call over the air (Attention, 123 Main St, a house on fire. Card to follow).

    Something else to consider is that not all places are consolidated. Many aren't, infact. So, by the time a 911 call may reach a secondary PSAP, 60 seconds or more may have gone by while the Primary PSAP determines what type of call it is, where it is, who it needs to be transferred to, etc. 87 of Ohio's 88 counties also do not have Phase II wireless capability, i.e., no ANI-ALI, so we have to untangle people (eastbound, westbound, etc)...So its also important to determine when the clock starts...
    Remember KQJ943

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    Quote Originally Posted by GADeputy
    We are having difficulty getting the dispatch center to get calls put out in less than 1 minute. In fact the majority of them are put out in 3 minutes. Yesterday 5 minutes. When I called the 911 director he told me they shoot for 2-3 minutes. Can someone give me a location or link for the standards that suggest 1 minute
    our center has started a "b-9" procedure in which we automatically send out all ems calls before we emd the call. example would be someone saying they have chest pain we send out a "10-b-9" which gets our ambulance and fire enroute. we then are emd'ing the call and based on the final determinant the ambulance and fire proceed with whatever the new determinant is or we cancel fire and slow down ems to a routine response. the idea is we go ahead and get everyone enroute emergency traffic and slow down if it turns out to not be severe. we figure we are saving time getting people there faster, and worst case we slow them down because its always easier to slow down then speed up.

    our med director has given us credit for a lot of saves due to fast response..

    and before people start saying its not safe to go emergency traffic unless its absolutely needed... that is what EVOC is for so i dont want to hear it.
    J.E. Guzman
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    our dispatch is for fire police ems and utilities and even the dog catcher. they take the call and then call on the phone and man it is slow we only have 2 stations and the call rings both at the same time but i would much rather have a station tone . the way it is now we have an old oooggggaaaa!!!horn that goes off for the dedicated emergency line from the pd. that realy sucks at 3 in the morning and then you dont know if your goin or the other station so u sit up and get dressed before the officer that gets the phone waves you off.our chief has promised us tones before long and the older guys dont want it they say they wont get to ask enough questions and i say ask enroute.

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    Meeting the NFPA 60 second guideline was easier in years past as it related to the Entry time to Dispatch time. This, to most I've talked to, meant that once a call taker had enough information to enter the call correctly, the disptcher had 60 seconds to get the tones into the station(s). Pretty easy and we met that goal 90%+ of the time.

    In recent years, NFPA changed the language of the guideline to read from Initiate time to Dispatch time. This means that it's from the time that the call is answered (picked up) to the tone out time. They changed the language, but left the 60 second parameter the same. This change has made it difficult for us to meet our high percentage compliance goals.

    Our department provides tiered dispatch (fire and medical), EMD, as well as providing responses to Haz Mat and other incidents that require differing response configurations. The disaptchers are responsible for ensuring that the most appropriate response is dispatched, therefore in trying to meet that requirement are tending to take a bit more time triaging the calls prior to entering them.

    In addition, we've tended to train that BLS calls for service are lower priority, and therefore the dispatchers can take more time (because they're not life threatening) to triage the situation.

    Currently we're meeting the 60 second guideline on about half of the overall calls. We're in the process of implementing the reporting portion of a newer RMS system so we're waiting for more accurate reports.

    I'm in favor of pushing the 60 second guideline for the "emergency" calls, and allowing a lower percentage for the non-emergency calls.

    Examples of "9-1-1, what's your address....nature of your emergency..." and getting a reply of "my fathers having a heart attack, he's on the floor and not breathing" are easy. Those go out quickly because the information received dictates the highest level of EMS service. However, when you receive a reply of "I'm not sure what's wrong...and no I'm not with the patient, he's next door and asked me to call...." are more time consuming to triage. Also, we're in an area that's very diverse in it's demographics and foreign language speakers are common; as is the use of a language translation service. This definitely impacts our ability to meet the 60 second goal.

    I think the guideline is a good thing to shoot for, but realistically - depending on the services you provide to the public - there needs to be emphasis placed on meeting that goal where it counts a very high percentage of time, versus an overall goal; and contributing factors (such as use of language line, uncooperative callers, clueless callers, etc) need to be accounted for in your statistical analysis.

    APCO also supports a goal of 60 seonds. In addition, I've queried the Commission on Fire Accreditation Intl (CFAI) who, in their Fire & Emergency Services - Self Assessment Manual (sixth edition) mention a 50 second timeframe for Initiate to Dispatch timeframes. They could not give me an answer where that time came from or how it was determined.

    All in all, 60 seconds is a good goal, but it's merely that - a goal. As another "poster" mentioned, if it's pushed too hard as a requirement - the dispatchers will become clock watchers, and accurate triage and response configuations could be negatively impacted. In my view, just "getting someone rolling" shouldn't be the goal. The goal should be to get the right resources rolling as quickly as possible to ensure that the responding crews have the equipment they need to mitigate the situation as quickly as possible.

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    Default Please identify your source

    Jolands,
    Would you please tell me where you got the 60 second guidline from? I was looking through NFPA 1221 which no one seems to mention, and I could not find any requiremnt on from the time between call and tones.

    Jay Wingfield

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    1 minute is not unacceptable. For a majority of medical/fire calls me make a skeleton incident, save it and dispatch it or have our partner dispatch it. Then we can go back to the caller and get more detailed information. The 1 minute time frame is a goal, and everyone understands that there are those calls that no matter what you do take a while to get dispatched. There are the callers who don't know where they are, the callers that want to tell you their life story before telling why they are calling that day, and various other reasons it will take longer. On the other side of the spectrum there are the easy calls that take less than 20 seconds to create, save and send to the pagers.
    Last edited by ramseycl; 11-27-2005 at 06:36 PM.

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