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May 19, 2004
Saving lives over the phone - Emergency Medical Dispatchers are the lifeline of the EMS system
When you call 9-1-1 in a medical emergency in Toronto, you’ll be patched
through to a highly-trained emergency medical dispatcher (EMD) in Toronto EMS’
Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC). The call receiver will get the
address and some basic information about the severity of the illness or injury
and start the closest available ambulance on the way. A further series of more
detailed questions will let the EMD update the paramedics en route about the

Their work doesn’t end there. While the medics are on the way, the dispatcher
will offer the caller advice on how to help treat or comfort the patient, often
with dramatic and life saving results. EMDs have helped deliver many babies by
offering instructions over the phone, talking nervous dads or siblings through
the delivery process. Another EMD calmly talked a frantic new mother through
the steps of infant heimlich maneuver, saving her choking baby’s life.

Once the paramedics have assessed the patient, an EMD will direct the paramedic
crew to take the patient to the nearest appropriate emergency department or
trauma centre. It’s a high- pressure job that requires intensive training and
the right temperament.

During EMS Week, we want to recognize the vital contribution our dispatchers
make to the prehospital medical system.

Date: Thursday, May 20, 2004
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Place: Emergency Services Headquarters, 4330 Dufferin St.

Reporters are invited to take a tour of the CACC, meet and interview some of
the dispatchers on duty, listen in to some calls and hear some tapes of the
amazing work our EMDs have done to save lives over the phone.

Media Contacts:

Larry Roberts, Coordinator, Toronto EMS Media Relations,
Peter Macintyre, Manager, Toronto EMS Community Safeguard Services,



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