Background: Relatively few dispatch agencies using the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch protocol systems have achieved Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) status. Despite ACE being the gold standard for implementation of these systems, no research exists about either barrier to ACE achievement or drivers of ACE success.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to describe the barriers to achieving ACE and to identify characteristics that indicate success with respect to achieving and maintaining ACE status.
Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted using the “success case method.” A subset of the most successful ACE achievers was selected to participate in the study; additionally, researchers selected agencies that either never achieved ACE or achieved ACE then lost that status. Representatives from these agencies were interviewed to gain insight into barriers to ACE and characteristics that indicate success with respect to sustaining ACE status.
Results: Analysis identified many differentiating characteristics between ACE achiever and non-ACE achiever agencies including differences in culture, in approach to ACE achievement, in timeline for ACE achievement, and in overall attitude to innovation and change. The primary barrier to ACE was protocol compliance.
Conclusion: Sustaining ACE-level performance appears to be a team effort, and those agencies that display the characteristics of team effectiveness identified in the study—such as having an external focus or a supportive work environment that promotes employee learning—are more likely to be top performers.