New state legislation will require 911 dispatchers with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to meet Emergency Medical Dispatcher training criteria by summer of next year, according to HSCO Corp. Scott Miller.
Once they complete training, dispatchers will be authorized to gather information on emergencies and give instructions to callers if the situation requires an immediate medical response before help arrives, Miller told The Times-Gazette.
Miller, who has served in dispatch for 22 years, was appointed Wednesday morning by the Highland County Board of Commissioners as the 911 coordinator for Highland County to take on the change.
Miller said the sheriff’s office has partnered with APCO International, a Daytona, Fla. public safety communications organization to provide EMD training. Miller said he’s currently working through the 32-hour basic course online, and will move on to instructor certification to provide in-house training for HCSO dispatchers.
“The goal is to start department training in September,” he said, adding that the department should be completely compliant by the end of the year.
“It’s going to be a tough thing to get used to,” he said, “because it’s going to completely change the way we process calls.”
Sgt. Shana Reffitt, 911 center supervisor at the HCSO, said she feels it’s a positive change.
“I think it’s good, because until now, we haven’t had a lot of training,” she said.
Miller said dispatchers often receive calls where medical instruction is necessary – for example, he said, both he and Reffitt have helped deliver babies over the phone – and the EMD training will help dispatchers be prepared for those types of situations.
According to Miller, in addition to training, dispatchers will have procedural guide cards on hand for a wide variety of emergency medical procedures, including CPR for different age groups and administration of medications.
Throughout his career, Miller said, he’s seen plenty of changes – and there are more to come. In the next few years, Miller said the county will likely develop text-to-911 capabilities and even use video streaming technology.
“If we have conflicting reports on an accident, we can ask people to send us video,” he said.
For now, though, Miller said he’s sticking with the task at hand.
“Right now, this is the big thing,” he said. “I’m ready for the challenge.”
In other news, commissioners awarded a bid to Hydro Conduit Corp. for a reinforced concrete storm sewer pipe for a total of $110,597.52.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.