You've heard success stories about 911 operators giving life-saving instructions when seconds count, but the reality is many local dispatchers aren't allowed to give medical advice.
One Grayson County city recently made the switch with extra training for dispatchers. All five dispatchers for Van Alstyne are now EMD certified. That means they can give basic instructions during a medical emergency. This is especially important for people who live in rural areas and have to wait several minutes for an ambulance.
When a call comes in, the dispatcher will ask the caller to describe the emergency, then pulls up a screen with information about anything from heart attack symptoms to heat stroke information. The dispatcher can never stray from the provided script because of the risk of liability.
All of the dispatchers completed their training this summer and say the move has been a success. A dispatcher has to complete forty hours of training to become EMD certified.
Dispatchers for Grayson County and in Sherman are not certified. In Denison, two of the five dispatchers are certified, but the service isn't offered across the board.