More than the calm and reassuring voice on the other end the phone; EMDs are the first point of contact in life and death situations, providing vital information to paramedic crews and hospitals.
Careers in BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) dispatch operations centres offer challenging work in a fast-paced environment. BCAS has centres located in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These centres are staffed by emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs) who receive in-bound calls, gather critical information from the caller and use approved protocols to assess the calls and dispatch the appropriate resource.
Directing basic life support and advanced life support ambulances, and air ambulances when needed, these dedicated professionals also communicate with first responders, search and rescue and police to ensure the right people and resources are on scene.
As an emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) you will have a vital role on the front line of the ambulance service as one of the first links in the emergency response chain. Based in a dispatch operations centre as part of a team with a supervisor, you will answer the 9-1-1 telephone calls and dispatch paramedic ambulances.
No two situations will be the same. You might be dealing with a life-or-death emergency, such as a multiple pile-up, a heart attack or a drug overdose; you might be faced with a non-life-threatening situation that needs a response, such as a child with a suspected broken hand or a headache that might be hiding an underlying problem.
Using a computerized triage system, your job will be to get all the essential information from the caller, who might be extremely anxious or panicking, as quickly and accurately as possible.
Thinking fast, multi-tasking and using your initiative, you will often work under great pressure. In extreme cases you might have to talk a member of the public through an emergency procedure, such as clearing an obstruction from someone’s windpipe or performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Equally, you might need to persuade a caller that their best course of action for their illness or injury is to speak to a nurse at HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) rather than being transported in an emergency ambulance and waiting in a busy emergency department.
When working as a dispatcher you will be passed details of 9-1-1 calls. Your responsibility will be to send the appropriate emergency ambulance to the scene as fast as possible with as much information as you can get. Your speed and accuracy is vital to the patient. While the crew is on its way, you will still be passing on further essential details so paramedics can go straight into action when they reach the scene.
The pace in the dispatch operations centre can be extremely fast – but at all times our focus is on the patient and delivering the best service we can.