Dispatchers at the Culpeper Public Safety Communications Center in Culpeper, Va., can now confidently give out life-saving information to desperate 911 callers. Before this year, those dispatchers weren't allowed to give out any information. They'd dispatch a first responder and tell the caller to call 911 again if anything changed.

The difference now is the addition of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International's (APCO) Emergency Medical Dispatch System (EMD), deployed in January.

"If you have a baby not breathing, with the EMD program you can give them the prearrival instructions to save that baby's life, otherwise they could be waiting several minutes," said Julie Troutman, APCO director. "Every second counts."

The program consists of a training curriculum from APCO and a set or sets of customizable EMD guidecards, from which dispatchers can quickly find the appropriate response to the call.

The guidecards feature more than 30 different complaint types that range from cardiac arrest to abdominal pain and include scripted medical instructions. The guidecards walk the dispatcher through a series of progressions to follow depending on the nature of the call. The guidecards are available in hard-copy form or on software.

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Jim McKay, Editor  |  Editor