Communications Center Improves Service Delivery Through Accreditation
by Michael Alcala-Michel
Direccion del Centro de Control, Comando, Comunicación Y Computo (C4) del Estado de Baja California
Baja California, Mexico
The Direccion del Centro de Control, Comando, Comunicación Y Computo (C4) del Estado de Baja California in Mexico, known as Centro C4 de Baja California, proudly achieved CALEA Public Safety Communications Accreditation in March 2012. Like with many agencies, the process of getting accredited was not without its challenges. It is frequently said that change creates resistance, and for our emergency communications center, this was no exception. From the beginning of the CALEA Accreditation process when we started to work with the standards and initiated the implementation of new directives, many staff viewed it as additional work and did not see or appreciate the benefits that accreditation would bring. During the many meetings held to train the staff on the new procedures, there was resistance to change or to accepting more responsibility.
An example of one such change involved service calls for medical emergencies. Our policy states that the center authorizes the operators to give first aid instruction over the telephone until paramedics arrive. In the C4 Centers this instruction had been provided by paramedics and Red Cross dispatchers assigned to work as operators. Under the new written directive, our personnel were required to be properly trained by the proper authority to specifically provide first aid instruction via telephone.
Following the recommendations in the standard commentary, we contracted with Priority Dispatch, who has a training program for providing of medical assistance during emergencies via telephone (EMD), and were certified by the National Academy for Emergency Medical Dispatch (NAEMD), to train the C4 personnel. Through a long training process, we were able to certify 100 percent of the operators to provide instructions in medical emergencies.
This was a great achievement for the C4 Centers in Baja California, but it also meant the operators had an increased level of responsibility. At the beginning this additional responsibility created a lot of apprehension and uncertainty for the operators; however, with practice and daily performance, the staff now feels confident of their training and sure of their skill level when handling a medical emergency call.
This was demonstrated some months ago when an operator received a call that a child was not breathing and had a green colored liquid in his mouth. The operator noted all required information to locate the field unit and immediately started the medical emergency instruction protocol, directing the parent to initiate CPR. In spite of the efforts, the child died of asphyxia due to swallowing a lollypop; however, after an investigation and review of the incident, the actions of the operator were found to be appropriate and in compliance with approved methods. This incident was an example to the staff that when following the agency’s policy, procedures, and protocols, the employee can feel safe that his/her actions are supported by a higher authority.
In another occasion the operator received a call from a taxi driver with a pregnant woman passenger who was in labor. The operator assisted the driver in the delivery; however, the umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck of the baby and it was not breathing. The operator instructed the driver in the safe removal of the umbilical cord, allowing the newborn to take its first breath. Saving this life was a satisfying experience for the operator, and she was grateful she had been trained to perform this level of service.
At the beginning of the accreditation process, the staff was reluctant to accept the new policies or changes in procedures and protocols, and certainly was resistant to taking on new training and responsibilities. But until the time when one applies the new practice, one can not appreciate the value of training and the effectiveness of the new procedures for operators. Now that staff has the training to respond to medical emergency calls, they can see the results of their continued efforts to be up to date with the training, and be able to achieve our professional goal to provide the community with the highest level of service.