W.Va. County's Dispatchers Get Advanced Training
WINFIELD - Putnam County residents who call 911 will get more attention from the person on the other end of the line starting this summer.
Frank Chapman, director of the county's office of emergency services, told county commissioners Tuesday that his call center would be trained and ready to use new answering protocols in May ahead of a July 1 statewide deadline.
"On July 1, 2013, all 911 centers in the state of West Virginia are required by legislative ruling to provide EMD, which is emergency medical dispatch, information to all 911 callers," Chapman said.
The new protocols will give dispatchers a list of triage questions to ask and basic medical advice, such as CPR instructions, to give callers after they've dispatched an ambulance and until it arrives or the caller hangs up.
Chapman said the county will contract with APCO International, a company that specializes in emergency communications, to train call center workers at a cost of $1,500 per worker. The call center currently has 10 full-time employees.
"We're going to have an in-house instructor, which will save us from sending someone out to training in some part of the state and having to pay motel, travel, all that," Chapman said.
The contractor will provide the questions and first-aid instructions responders will read to callers, though local emergency officials can tweak the wording if they see fit.
The new protocols also come with requirements that ensure dispatchers stay on the phone with callers - and not put them on hold to answer other incoming calls. That increased workload on each dispatcher might require the call center to add full-time employees to manage the call volume.
In other emergency services news, all the county's ambulances will be outfitted with power stretchers that are equipped with motors to help lift larger patients into the ambulance.
Cecil Kimble, director of emergency medical services, opened a single bid to provide the power stretchers at Tuesday's meeting. The total bid from Stryker was for $93,700. Kimble said the cost is about $14,000 per power stretcher.
The hope is that the power stretchers will reduce on-the-job injuries to ambulance crew members and reduce worker's compensation liability.
Commissioner Joe Haynes also reported that ditch dredging work is complete in Black Betsy as well as Hometown. Now the state Division of Highways has told the county it will come in and clean out its culverts along W.Va. 62. Those culverts channel water coming off the hillside toward the Kanawha River. Both Black Betsy and Hometown lie between the road and the river.
The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the county courthouse in Winfield. The next meeting is Dec. 11. All meetings are open to the public.
Copyright 2012 Charleston Newspapers