Sometimes referred to as 911 operators even though they can be found in many other work environments, emergency medical dispatchers form an important link between persons in need of emergency medical attention and paramedics and other healthcare professionals. Their work will typically entail receiving crisis calls from the scene of a medical emergency.
It is their responsibility to gather key information, quickly access the scenario, give lifesaving medical instructions and then dispatch appropriate emergency personnel to manage the emergency on site or evacuate the victim. Given the nature of the calls they receive, emergency medical dispatcher must be tactful in how he or she talks to the caller so that they can calm them down sufficiently to get an accurate picture of the extent of emergency, nature of injury suffered or illness experienced and the victim’s location.
EMDs work in a broad array of job sectors. They may be employed at a fire station, police station, a county level emergency response unit or a hospital dispatch center. As one would expect from a crisis-driven work place, the role is fast paced and the dispatcher has to cope with high stress levels. An emergency medical dispatchers sometimes must work for long and odd hours with their role often not enjoying the privilege of rest during weekends or public holidays.
For one to be an emergency medical dispatcher, they must develop ways of handling high pressure situations and managing stress. The job calls for one to make correct decisions quickly that will help stem the danger presented by the problem at hand. Since the dispatcher notifies and deploys personnel to deal with the issue on site, they must be effective team players who can coordinate rescue teams and provide additional support even when the team is already on site.
A medical dispatcher will often be called upon to provide basic life saving medical instructions over the phone. Such instructions could include essential first aid tips, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), steps to calm down the victim and the procedure of safely delivering a baby outside a medical facility.
All these are meant to keep the victim stable before the arrival of the rescue team and paramedics. This means that the dispatcher’s interpersonal and communication skills must be exceptional – any ambiguity in their communication may worsen a life threatening situation.
Like any other job in the world today, the role of technology in the day to day execution of the emergency medical dispatcher’s duties is on the increase. Therefore, the emergency medical dispatcher’s computer, internet and telecommunication literacy levels must be up to date with the most frequently used technology in the market.
In order for one to increase the probability of being called up for an EMD job interview and later hired, he or she must demonstrate proficiency in algebra, medical terminology, first aid, computer skills, psychology, biology, English, telephone communication and public speaking. The ability to speak one or more foreign languages is usually an added advantage.
One must have successfully completed a training specializing in Emergency Medical Dispatcher and that meets the standards set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Emergency Medical Dispatchers should also obtain a National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) certificate which licenses them to work as qualified medical practitioners.
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