Debate continues over emergency medical dispatchers

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Debate continues over emergency medical dispatchers

Remsa

Local lawmakers and law enforcement continue to iron out the details of their franchise agreement with Reno Emergency Medical Services Authority. Changes to how emergency medical dispatching is done were one of the topics of Tuesday's Washoe County Commissioners meeting.

Local lawmakers and law enforcement continue to iron out the details of the franchise agreement with the Reno Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA). Making changes to emergency medical dispatching was one of the topics of Tuesday's meeting of Washoe County Commissioners.

Many of the biggest obstacles to better coordinating the region's emergency response system are technical. REMSA and Washoe County, as well as the City of Reno, are in the process of integrating their systems, so that they can collect data and respond more efficiently. Officials say much of that should be up and running within a year.

One of the last sticking points, however, is the question: who should answer emergency medical calls?

Currently, 911 calls go to the dispatch center first and then the medical ones are transferred over to REMSA.

REMSA would like to keep that system in place.

But Charlie Moore, who is fire chief for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, says handing over the call to REMSA can create an extra step, especially if fire and police have to be involved, as well.

"And there's this back and forth that is really what troubles the fire chiefs. It seems like it's inefficient, and I believe it's inefficient."

Moore and others say it shouldn't matter who responds to the call because dispatchers follow a very specific script.

Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler says she would like to see the system stay the same.

"Statistically there may be no evidence that having a paramedic or a nurse answer a call is not a better way to do it. Since we already have that in place, that seems to be a better way to do it for this community."

No decisions will be made yet. The commission made a motion for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office to continue working on the plan over the coming months.