7/26 UPDATE: The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today postponed a discussion on Chairman Bob Buster's request for a study on how to improve the county's emergency dispatch service using the latest technology.
With a full agenda, Buster decided to pull the proposal, which will come up for consideration again on Aug. 16.
ORIGINAL POST: Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster next week will ask fellow board members to support a proposal for computerizing 911 functions in the county to save time in emergencies and cut down on diverting resources to "band-aid'' calls.
During the Board of Supervisors' meeting Tuesday, Buster, who represents Lake Elsinore and Wildomar in the 1st District, plans to seek approval for a study on how to revamp the county's dispatch system so that it ends duplicative functions by implementing "state of-the-art'' technology.
In a two-page brief, Buster noted that about 80 percent of the county's 911 calls are medical-related, but "many of those calls stem from non-emergency and non-life-threatening incidents.''
The supervisor explained that the current protocol for answering a request for medical aid is to deploy a fire engine with two firefighters and a paramedic -- responding with lights and siren -- along with an ambulance staffed by two emergency medical technicians, rolling code three.
"Responding with a full array of assets with red lights and siren to every medical aid call -- many of which first-responders call `band-aid calls' -- takes emergency response units out of service unnecessarily and contributes to increased response times in (true) life-threatening emergencies when units farther away must be dispatched,'' Buster wrote.
He said that currently all 911 calls, regardless of their nature, go through the sheriff's department, and a sheriff's dispatcher decides where to route the call, creating a delay.
A fire department dispatcher then deploys a crew and broadcasts via radio an alert to the county's ambulance service, American Medical Response.
Buster complained that the system was "outmoded'' and needed to be modernized using Computer-Aided Dispatch.
"An integrated CAD system utilizing Medical Priority Dispatch System protocols would allow emergency medical service providers to immediately identify the nature of the emergency and share automated data concerning the location of the caller, thus decreasing ambulance dispatch and response times,'' the supervisor said.
He pointed out that similar systems are in place in the cities of Corona, Riverside and San Bernardino, where dispatchers are trained to ascertain callers' needs and respond appropriately, providing limited medical advice over the phone until first-responders arrive, "resulting in saved lives and improved patient outcomes.''
He said the process also prevents a needless deployment of emergency equipment and personnel. --City News Service