New dispatch system shortens processing time of medical calls

Guelph, On, November 8, 2013 – Thanks to a new call processing system being piloted in Guelph, the City’s Emergency Services are receiving notice of specific tiered response medical calls at the same time.

Guelph is one of four municipalities in Ontario selected as an early adopter site to use the province’s Emergency Medical Services-Technology Interoperability Framework (EMS-TIF) for processing medical calls. The other cities are Kitchener, Barrie, and Mississauga.

The pilot program, introduced in 2011 by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC), automates and streamlines the notification process between fire and ambulance services. The Guelph Fire Department received the green light to start using the technology on September 26.

The MOHLTC estimates the program will shorten the average call processing time between ambulance and fire dispatchers by 30 seconds.

Shawn Armstrong, general manager of Emergency Services, says call processing between Guelph’s fire and ambulance services is improving with the EMS-TIF in use. Prior to September 26, the City’s Emergency Services were averaging 43 seconds to process a medical call.

“The first call we processed using the EMS-TIF took only eight seconds and in our first week call processing improved by about 15 seconds,” says Armstrong, adding, “We expect this number to continue to improve and with response times measured by the second it is of great importance to make every second count.”

Similar to many Ontario communities, Guelph’s firefighters and paramedics respond to medical calls under a formal agreement—the tiered response program. With the EMS-TIF in use, specific tiered response medical calls to the 911 system are processed and sent out as electronic notices from the ambulance dispatch system to the Guelph Fire Department dispatch system. In the past, these calls were processed manually and communicated by phone.

In addition to improving call processing times and sharing information faster, the program assists Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Services by having trained and equipped first responders on scene to provide aid in the event of sudden cardiac arrests and other serious medical emergencies.

“The goal is that by reducing the time it takes to process a medical emergency, we can provide faster overall emergency response to the public,” says Armstrong. Response times are reported annually in the Emergency Service’s annual report.

The EMS-TIF costs are shared with the MHLTC, with the City paying $23,000 for a one-time licensing fee and computer-aided dispatch software. The City is also responsible for paying $15,000 a year for maintenance and network fees.

For more information

Shawn Armstrong
General Manager/Fire Chief
Emergency Services
519-822-1260 extension 2125