WEBSTER TIMES STAFF WRITER
OXFORD — Emergency dispatches throughout the Commonwealth are preparing for changes to the way they take 911 calls.
In Oxford, police department dispatcher Alan Jeskey said the idea to change how dispatchers operate came back in 2008. He said as of 2012, all emergency dispatchers must implement what the state is calling “emergency medical dispatch.”He said after 15 years with the department this is one of the more substantial changes to the system. He said twothings about the system he is most happy about is the training and supplies are paid for by grants, costing residents nothing, but providing them with what he feels is better service.Jeskey explained the new system requires dispatchers to ask more questions of the caller, but will not increase the response of emergency crews.
He said these extra questions are designed to understand the full extent of the emergency and will better help both Oxford fire and police officers when they send crews out into the field.
“This provides better pre-hospital care,” said Jeskey during an interview on Wednesday, March 28. “It helps determine what the root causes are.’
He said more information helps get the right responders to the scene with the correct equipment.
“You wouldn’t need a paramedic for someone who cut their finger,” said Jeskey. “Many times sending paramedics out on a call can be a wasted resource.”
In the end, Jeskey agreed that the whole plan boils down to making the system more efficient.
Oxford Fire Chief Sheri Bemis, who has worked alongside Jeskey and the police department on this project, said she is pleased with the progress they have made.
“What it will do for us is it gives us the pertinent information prior to arrival,” said Bemis.
She said an example of when first responders find other, more severe issues when they arrive at a call, is when a resident reported they were having trouble breathing. Bemis said when crews got to the home they found the patient was having trouble with their breathing because they were smoking while on oxygen, and a fire had started.
She said with a few more questions dispatchers will be able to have a clearer picture of the problem before sending paramedics to a scene.
Bemis said with the extra training dispatchers are receiving they will now be able to instruct residents on bleeding control, CPR and other ways to safely stabilize a patient before rescue workers arrive.
“It is going to take a little more time on the phone,” said Jeskey. “A few of the people have said just get me the help. In reality an ambulance is on the way.”
Police Chief Michael Hassett said he is pleased with how well this new system has worked in the calls they have taken in the last few weeks.
“I know that Alan and Sherri are the ones that spearheaded this,” said Hassett. “But all [the departments] are in it together.”
He went on to say that the most important part of this program is getting the word out to residents and educating them on the new system.
Joy Richard may be reached at 508- 909-4129 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.