Answering 911 Calls
The Communications Division is the first point of contact for all patients entering the EMS system. Our Communications Medics accurately triage calls, ensure the correct response is sent and begin patient care through Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) before field responder arrive on scene. We take pride in our role as the voice of calm in what is often a chaotic and emotional situation for the citizens we serve.
The Emergency Communications Division of Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) is based out of the Combined Communications, Emergency & Communications Center (CTECC) in Austin, Texas. The Division has 54 full-time employees who are responsible for managing all in-coming 9-1-1 requests for EMS response in the City of Austin and Travis County jurisdictions. The Communications Division answered 146,456 emergency calls during the last fiscal year (FY2016-17).
Our frontline staff members are identified as Communications Medics – a title unique to our Department. We employ EMTs and Paramedics with an affinity toward EMS Communications, then build on their existing medical knowledge and technical capabilities. During their initial training our Communication Medics obtain Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) certification through the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED).
The Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) is developed and maintained by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). MPDS is a protocol script that is used internationally to triage 9-1-1 requests for medical emergencies. The proprietary system is used in over 3,000 9-1-1 centers around the world - with over 7 million EMS calls processed annually. The MPD protocol ensures consistent questions to determine the appropriate response level for each incoming emergency request. It addresses scene safety for our patients, bystanders and our responders. The protocol also contains scripted instructions for lifesaving interventions like CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and childbirth. MPDS is an essential tool for our day to day management of EMS incidents at ATCEMS.
Upon completion of on-the-job training Communication Medics are credentialed as clinical providers through the Austin-Travis County Office of the Medical Director. Our Communications Medics are classified as sworn Civil Service staff, rather than civilian employees. We hold our medics to the highest industry standards and our center is often regarded as a model to be emulated by other departments. After mastering the call intake/triage process a Communications Medic I may promote to a Communications Medic II. This promoted rank expands their skillset to include radio dispatch and system resource management. The Communications Division has a career path which mirrors Field Operations, with promotional opportunities at the Captain, Commander and Division Chief levels.
ATCEMS Emergency Communications is recognized as an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) by the IAED – which demonstrates our dedication to excellence in patient management. This Accreditation requires us to demonstrate mastery of the triage protocols through a robust quality assurance process that includes providing our staff with on-going improvement feedback. We review 5-6% of our calls to confirm protocol compliance and ensure excellent patient management. ATCEMS was the 1st agency in Texas and 34th in the world to earn this Accreditation.
- Obtained re-accreditation through the International Association of Emergency Dispatchers (IAED) maintaining the status of the 1st Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) in Texas and the 39th in the world.
- 5261 calls were reviewed by the Communications Performance Improvement Team in 2017. 315 of those calls were requested reviews or special calls resulting in a compliance rate of 99.49% and 3602 of those calls were reviewed for ACE compliance with an overall yearly compliance rating of 99.62%.
- Provided over 1,100 contact hours to 2 Communications Academies consisting of 5 Telecom Interns, 2 Medic I Cadets, and 1 Medic II lateral transfer.