If one thing has defined emergency dispatching over the past 40 years, it has been the desire to always be doing it better: better interrogations of callers, better Pre-Arrival Instructions, better customer service—the list goes on and on. To drive constant improvement in dispatch is also the purpose of the Annals of Emergency Dispatch & Response. We aim to provide emergency dispatch professionals, whether line calltakers, quality assurance specialists, or communication center managers, with the best and most up-to-date information available about the critical work they do.
That’s why we’re particularly proud that this issue of the Annals takes on the desire to do it better, offering articles on training, protocol development, data collection and metrics, and research itself.
Two studies explicitly address the question of how to help dispatchers and calltakers do what they do better, one by examining the types and effectiveness of training across a number of dispatch centers, the other by evaluating the effectiveness of a specific Continuing Dispatch Education (CDE) series used in one center. Two papers provide insights into how protocols are constantly improved: the evidence base behind a new Sinking Vehicle Protocol and a case study that generated new knowledge and new changes in the Emergency Communication Nurse System (ECNS). Two other articles both look at metrics and measurements that can help any system improve, whether by utilizing a new kind of time measurement (Call Prioritization Time) or comparing data points prior to and after the implementation of a new dispatching system.
Finally, a paper on “research literacy” looks at the desire and ability of dispatch professionals themselves to become involved in research, demonstrating that many dispatchers already possess, or can readily learn, the research skills needed to conduct their own studies. This paper is of particular interest to me, personally, as the Editor-in-Chief of AEDR because it gives me hope for the future. I see quite clearly a time, not too long from now, when academic researchers and dispatch professionals work together regularly to study, evaluate, and improve not only dispatch protocols and processes, but the work lives of dispatchers, the training they are provided, and the support they receive in doing their life-saving work as the first, first-responders.
As always, thank you for reading.
Isabel Gardett, PhD