Thursday, October 17, 2002

Fairfield dispatchers to be trained to offer medical tips



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - The city soon will increase training for dispatchers in how to provide first aid, pre-arrival instructions to callers.

City officials hope the Fire Department medical directors who oversee the emergency medical program will conduct the training. In Fairfield's case, two doctors - one from University Hospital and one from Mercy Hospital Fairfield - fill that role.

The city's nine dispatchers are likely to be trained at the city's justice center off Ohio 4 either two hours before or after their shifts, Fire Chief Don Bennett told City Council at a Tuesday work session.

"Their focus is going to be on management of the emergency situation," the chief said. "We intend to provide them with enough knowledge to assist a caller in providing immediate care while the units are en route to the scene. We pretty much know that from our run volume and run experience the core of assistance required will be airway management and bleeding control. There will be no pre-arrival instructions that involve the use of any medications or supplemental drugs."

Certified emergency medical instructors also will help teach the remaining portion of the course, which will be six hours of CPR that will incorporate the use of an automatic external defibrillator.

About 35 percent of the Fire Department's annual 3,600 calls require advanced life support capabilities, Chief Bennett said.

Fairfield is one of five area communities that do not offer doctor-approved medical instructions that can be read from a flip card or computer screen. Covington, Oxford, Lebanon and Blanchester are the others, according to an Enquirer survey conducted this summer.

Such cards and screens still won't be used, Chief Bennett said, because the city wants to train its dispatchers so they are more customized to Fairfield's needs.

It is not yet known how much the training will cost, but it is expected to start either in December or early next year.

Until now, Fairfield officials didn't want to risk possible lawsuits if an untrained dispatcher gave out bad information. Other issues included the costs involved (at $300 to $400 a person) or the manpower to fill in for dispatchers sent off for three days to be trained in the procedure called emergency medical dispatch (EMD).

But University and Mercy Fairfield's involvement helps solve the cost and time issues for the city, Chief Bennett said.

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.



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