Augusta EMS dispatch to flip a page into the future

For now, dispatchers are using flipbooks to give medical care over the phone.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 4:38 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - When Central EMS came to Augusta, they did not bring an emergency medical dispatch system.

With Gold Cross out of the picture, along with their dispatch system, the city is taking over those responsibilities. For now, dispatchers are using flipbooks to give medical care over the phone.

It’s a system that changed overnight. Some people might be concerned when they hear dispatchers are using flipbooks to give life-saving directions, but communications officers train for six months to a year on this system.

Up until Gold Cross left, they handled their own 911 medical calls.

“We never really had the need to have the software. It actually would’ve been a waste of money if we had the software that we would never use,” said Daniel Dunlap, emergency 911 communications director.

The flipbook system they are using is only meant as a backup. The dispatch center says they’re up to date and reliable in case of medical emergencies to provide on-the-phone care.

“But when it comes down to it, we’re talking about saving lives,” said Dunlap.

Dispatchers can give instructions during emergencies like childbirth, allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, and more.

“We’re the first, first responders when it comes down to it. So our ability to try and provide any kind of life-saving instructions until the field units arrive is what’s most important to the public,” he said.

While they say the flipbooks are reliable they are already looking towards the future. Richmond County’s emergency system has millions in Reserve Funds.

They used those funds to buy a new $130,000 electronic system.

Nicole Hill is a communications officer call taker. She said, “With the new system, it’s at your fingertips. You can read a little bit better, a little quicker. A little easier. Are able to ask the appropriate questions a little easier. With the flip charts, you have to go to subtitles, so to speak.”

The new electronic system should be in place by the end of June.