New system allows 911 dispatchers to give more medical instructions by phone

New technology will allow Islanders to get more basic medical assistance from 911 dispatchers until emergency help arrives for them.

AED registry part of new program

A new Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system will have 911 dispatchers trained to help out with basic medical issues over the phone until paramedics arrive. (Bill Van Asperen/CBC)

New technology will allow Islanders to get more basic medical assistance from 911 dispatchers until emergency help arrives for them. 

The new Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system will enable dispatchers to give instructions for things such as CPR over the phone until Island EMS or other first responders arrive.

"This new system is a standardized approach to 911 medical calls that will bridge a crucial emergency services gap, because dispatchers cannot currently provide this level of support," said Matt Spidel, operations manager with the Island EMS Dispatch Centre in a news release.

Consistent training

He said staff will now be able to be consistent in the way they handle all medical calls while also providing the caller with step-by-step medical instructions until first responders arrive on scene.

Also being created is a new provincial Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) Registry. It allows 911 dispatchers to help a caller assisting a patient in sudden cardiac arrest of the publicly accessible defibrillator closest to them, direct the caller to either retrieve it or ask someone else for assistance, and provide instructions on how to use it until paramedics arrive.

"We are delighted to learn of government's planned enhancement of EMD protocol in P.E.I. that will doubtless save the lives of many who experience a heart attack, stroke or other medical emergency," said Charlotte Comrie, CEO of Heart & Stroke in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

Live in September 

The provincial is providing $166,000 to implement the EMD protocol and AED Registry. 

P.E.I. Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said emergency health situations can be both intimidating and scary for bystanders involved.
Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Henderson (centre) was joined by Heart & Stroke P.E.I. manager Sarah Crozier and Island EMS Dispatch Centre operations manager Matt Spidel to announce the new emergency health technology. (Contributed/Government of P.E.I. )

"By providing 911 dispatchers with the knowledge and training to assist someone at the scene of an emergency, critical care can start immediately and in some situations Islanders lives may be saved," he said.

After staff are trained, the EMD system will go live in September. The AED Registry is expected to be launched later this fall.

Health PEI will be reaching out to communities across the province to encourage them to register their publicly accessible AEDs.