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Catch-all decisions are commonly made when a 911 caller gives vague information. For example, a caller asks for an ambulance because his wife doesn’t look right or feel well. Because Call Handlers have an incentive to categorize a problem quickly, they might assign the call to the ‘Unknown Medical Problem’ protocol and dispatch accordingly. But, with Total Response Software, Call Handlers probe further by asking active, standardized priority questions to help identify a chief complaint, and get the correct responders on scene without sending excessive resources.

Total Response is designed to help Call Handlers quickly and accurately identify the chief complaint behind each call. 911 calls vary widely in nature and scope – Total Response has proven to be the most effective way for Call Handlers to get the information they need and reduces overreliance on catch-all protocols.

Time matters with 911 calls, and responders should be dispatched as soon as the Call Handler reliably determines the Chief Complaint. But, sometimes, it becomes apparent to a Call Handler after they had dispatched responders that there are additional issues at play, or sometimes the situation will escalate while the call is in progress. For example, criminal trespass may turn into a home invasion, or a person at the scene may stop breathing. 

More often than not, the conversation uncovers additional information relevant to the dispatch determination or the responders en route. Good dispatch operations allow their Call Handlers the flexibility to adjust determinations as a call unfolds. Total Response makes these connections as easy as possible with clearly marked “protocol bridges” within the software that takes the Call Handler to related protocols when selected. More importantly, Total Response places “Primary Questions” within each call handling protocol to help operators make the right priority determinations before they dispatch responders. In the above example of a call being placed under the ‘Unknown Medical Problem’ protocol, the next set of primary questions would include:

  • Are they alert and able to talk?
  • Are they able to breathe normally?
  • Do you have any idea what has happened?
  • Do they have any apparent injuries?
  • Can you describe them?
  • Is the scene safe?
  • What is the patient doing now?
  • Are they moving at all?

All of these active lines of questioning could (and do) stimulate any number of responses that allow the Call Handler to more accurately diagnose the problem and send the appropriate response. To continue with the example above, the man might respond that, actually, his wife is short of breath. In this instance, the Call Handler should move to the “Breathing Problems” protocol.  This protocol has prompts for dispatching at a much higher urgency than the “Unknown Medical Problem” protocol and Pre-Arrival Instructions, including how to loosen the victim’s clothes and best make them comfortable, and prompts the caller to collect information on medical prescriptions that might be valuable to responding EMD workers.  

These little bits of information make a drastic impact on the quality of care (and appropriateness of Response) that members of your community receive when calling 911. Remember, 911 Callers rarely think clearly and fail to make essential connections or revelations that responders need to know, and Total Response was designed to gather this information quickly and efficiently. 

Total Response helps 911 centers ask better questions of callers and relay scene information faster and more accurately to responders. Pre-arrival instructions ensure a zero-minute response time to deliver actionable advice, enhance scene safety and minimize liability exposure.