Triage: How We Can Change 911 and Save Lives

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Triage: How We Can Change 911 and Save Lives

 

There are 240 million calls made to 911 each year. Of these 240 million calls, it’s estimated that around 50% of those are misdialed. For over five decades, since the inception of 911 in the 1960's, dispatchers have been answering calls in the chronological order that they’ve come to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Finally, thanks to advancements in location and video streaming technology, we can break-away from the ineffective and resource-wasting First In First Out paradigm that controls the public safety industry.

 

The First In First Out paradigm

The First In First Out paradigm makes sense in theory. Each call that comes into a 911 PSAP must be answered in the order that it is made and each emergency carries equal weight. If this was a call center for tech support, the paradigm fits. All customers, no matter where they live or what they do, are alike and of identical importance to the company. However, public safety is a far cry from tech support and it’s time to expand one of the most important elements of emergency response, triage, into how we contact 911.

 

When you walk, roll, hobble, or are carried into an emergency room, half a dozen things happen without you realizing it. Within 30 seconds you are: immediately assessed by an experienced doctor or nurse and assigned into four categories/colors (depending on the country).

 

These categories are:

 

Minimal/Green

  • Walking wounded/uninjured.
  • These are patients that can function freely without assistance and answer questions coherently and accurately.
  • In an emergency situation, they can assist medical staff in helping more severe cases and can be attended to later.

Injured/Yellow

  • Moderately wounded.
  • These patients have cuts and lacerations and are in need of some minor form of medical attention (i.e. dressing of wounds) before being upgraded to Minimal/Green.