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Abstract

Introduction: Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) quality can have life-or-death implications. The quality of service provided by PSAPs is inconsistent due to the lack of mandatory standards of care at the national, state, and local levels. Public demands and duties placed on PSAPs have grown due to technological changes, civil cases alleging negligence, and the emergence of national recommended standards of care, yet governments at all levels have been slow to create governance structures to reinforce adherence to standards.

Methods: This article focuses on the question: How do PSAP leaders measure performance based on their definition of quality? The method used is directed content analysis, including analysis of interview and focus group data.

Results: As a result of this study, a new six-dimensional model for quality emerged. Participants defined PSAP quality as achieving balance across a continuum of nuanced variables because a single 911 call may have “99 tasks that need to be done.” Telecommunicators must: (a) Be fast AND accurate, (b) Use their judgement AND follow the protocol, and (c) Utilize all available technology AND prepare for that same technology to fail.

Conclusion: PSAP leaders should consider instructing new employees with the sixdimensional model to set expectations of performance while avoiding the perception of false dichotomies. This model should also be considered when implementing new quality improvement programs or procedures. By considering the totality and complexity of quality definitions, PSAP leaders can allow for reasonable variation and thus curb anxiety and frustration among their employees.

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