Blaring sirens fade a bit as EMS prioritizes calls
If the frequency of blaring ambulance sirens seems to be diminishing, it might not be your imagination.
City ambulances no longer travel to low-priority calls at a high rate of speed with sirens sounding and lights flashing.
With the opening of a new Emergency Medical Services Division dispatch center this week comes a new communications system that allows dispatchers to better prioritize calls and determine whether a case is low priority.
"There's no need to endanger the public, paramedics and the ambulance," said Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the city Emergency Services Department.
The change is being made to ensure public safety and bring the EMS Division in line with national standards, Cheplic said.
The move coincides with Tuesday's opening of a new EMS Division dispatch center.
"With our new communications system, our emergency medical dispatchers now have the latest equipment to be that much more efficient and effective," said EMS Chief Patricia J. Dukes. "It's an essential tool for maintaining the high level of care we provide the people of Hawaii."
The new software, ProQA, enables dispatchers to prioritize calls much more quickly and efficiently, Cheplic said.
The new software allows all EMS dispatchers, trained in the medical field, to go through a questionnaire to prioritize a call. But if needed, dispatchers can deviate from the questionnaire, which is a part of their training, Cheplic said.
But whether a case is determined by dispatchers to be high or low priority, EMS personnel will continue to respond to every call, Cheplic said.
EMS ambulances have had their share of fender benders, but none has resulted in serious injuries, Cheplic said.
The new center has double the floor space of the 12-year-old center formerly located at the Honolulu Airport. The number of consoles for call-takers also increased to six from four. The location of the new center, however, is not being disclosed due to security reasons.
"The Department of Homeland Security is requesting all emergency responders to not divulge the location of dispatch centers that may become a target," Cheplic said.