Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad Dispatchers or Bad Dispatching??

This one has been on my mind for a long time now. This will probably be my last rant before I start complaining about Christmas lights being up too long again (January 15th, take em down!).

We all complain about bad dispatchers, however in most cases it isn't their fault. Most are products of either training, or the policy's of the dispatching center. Most fall into the "Because this is how we have always done it" mentality.

So having said that, here is my list of good and bad Dispatching centers. This list really is only going to include regional center's, and not individual towns. I also can't speak of every center in NJ, so several are going to be absent here.

Top of the list is Burlington County. They get the call out quicky, and put together a good radio system. They have been doing it right since I first started scanning. Right behind them are Camden County, Gloucester, and Mercer. Most of the MICU centers are up there as well (Monoc, Atlantic/Cape Medcom, REMCS, CenCom, Med Central etc.).

Moving down to the middle of the pack are Ocean and Monmouth. Both do a fine job but could stand some improvement.

Now, lets shoot right to the bottom of the list. This might surprise you, but Hunterdon County is on the bottom, and I have a few good reasons why.

#1 They have WAY WAY WAY too many fire tones. Every minute counts in this business, yet it is not unusual to listen to 90 seconds of tones, only to hear a fire alarm which they already know is a false alarm (more on that in a sec). There are some stations that have at least 4 sets of tones, maybe even 5. It makes no sense to me. Why does anyone need that many? Why was it allowed to begin with? This is ridiculous.

#2 Once you finally get through the minute and a half of tones, now the dispatcher gives you the entire medical history of the patient on the initial alert....not once but twice. Now I don't know about anyone else, but if I am trying to get to a call, I'm trying to get my pants and shoes on. I don't need all that information over the pager. You should be giving that when the Rig signs on. One can't help but wonder how many other emergencies get stacked up because the dispatcher is rambling on about some guys surgery 2 weeks ago.

#3 So now you get a fire alarm called in, then you get a call that its a false alarm.....yet, they still feel the need to dispatch 4 stations, and even tell you that its a false alarm and someone called in to cancel. All I can say is WHY??? Again, bad SOP.

I will say that once they get the units on the air, things generally run pretty good, but getting there is like having a wisdom tooth pulled.

Time to move up now from the bottom. Warren County is down here too. Although they have much improved since I moved here (and the new radio plan is going to help), I just can't get past the annoying pager tests every single night of the week between 6 & 7. In this day in age, do you really need to tone out every single fire & EMS station every single night? Can't you just split it up and maybe of 5 or 6 a day, or better yet, why do it at all? Why is a dispatcher who is dealing with emergencies need to be burdened with this? I actually lock the channel out during that time, it's like finger nails on a chalk board after a while. Aside from all of that, they are doing a good job.

Also down near the bottom are all the Sussex County dispatch centers. I'm not going to harp on any one specifically, but lets just say they need work and leave it as that. I think its time for the county to merge them all into one center and stop this none sense of these towns switching centers every year.

Just up from Sussex & Warren is Somerset and Washington Twp (West Morris). Overall, both do a good job now, but have lots of room for improvement. Somerset County has been a mess for a long time, and they are finally getting things together (you can probably thank the bad economy for that).

Now for the most improved. Although not a regional center, Mt. Olive gets the award. When I lived in Flanders 10 years ago, the dispatching was HORRIBLE. Although not perfect, they are tons better than they used to be. Congratulations!

So the moral here is this. Keep the dispatching short and get the call out. If its a 2 minutes medical explanation, call it a medical emergency and move on. A car accident is a motor vehicle accident. You can discuss air bags, finger injuries, whatever when the units sign on. If anyone from these dispatch centers are reading this and are getting pissed, then stop listen to how other counties are doing things once and a while. Just because you have been doing it this way for 10 or 20 years, doesn't mean its effective.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Thank you for your review here John. Hunterdon County is so God awful with their excessive tones, I never turn them on until someone tells me something is happening there. Warren is good in my book, but their radio plan needs to be replaced TODAY! Back in the old days, sirens were test every Monday night. Period. 1 night a week pager tests are plenty, and dump them all at one time and have an automated recording with a short message. Free up the human resources for more vital work. But the bellwether in my book is Northampton County (PA). Great radio plan, clear communitons, great SOP for dispatchers and no daily tests. I'm just sayin.