View Full Version : another 911 response question

Joanna Hoyt
12-13-2010, 04:58 AM
I've heard that 911 dispatchers generally encourage those who call in and report apparent fatalities to try to check vital signs and attempt resuscitation. I've also heard that those who don't really know what they're doing should not try to move people with spinal column injuries. So if someone with no medical expertise beyond a basic CPR course calls in and reports having found a person with an obviously broken neck, what will the dispatcher instruct her to do?

12-13-2010, 06:04 AM
Dispatcher will ask if the person's breathing.
If thecaller doesn't know hw to tell if the person is breathing, the dispatcher will talk the caller through it, telling caller to look, listen and feel for respirations. If the caller determines not breathing, dispatch will tell the caller to open the airway with a jaw thrust (as opposed to a head tilt/neck lift which endangers the cervical fx), check again, give artifical resp if needed, move on to pulse check, begin compressions if no pulse.
If the person was breathing, dispatcher will tell the caller to ensure medics can get to them (does the caller need to go unlock the door or put away a mean dog so medic can access?) and manually stabilize the pt's head and neck. If the pt is cons, thee caller will be told to tell the pt to not move.

12-13-2010, 06:06 AM
Does the person have First Aid & CPR, or only CPR?

I just renewed my First Aid & CPR Friday, and we actually covered a scenario where the person fell and has a possibly broken neck, and isn't breathing and their heart isn't beating. In that case, we were supposed to start administering CPR - better to be paralyzed and alive than dead because no one did CPR. Only if the victim was breathing on their own, we were supposed to keep them from moving their head and neck and possibly making the damage worse.

12-13-2010, 06:33 AM
9-1-1 uses a system called Emergency Medical Dispatch cards for determining what to do. This is a series of questions that can be answered yes or no by the caller, with instructions on how to check the various answers.

So the call would go something like this:

"Is the person breathing?"


"Does the person have a pulse?"


CPR is indicated. "Does there appear to be any injury to the neck or jaw area?"


Alternative CPR method is indicated. "Do not tilt the patient's head back to open an airway. Place your fingers on either side of the jaw, using your fingers to move the jaw. Do not move the patient's head." Then the instructions continue for CPR.

This is an approximation of the questions. I know there was someone on this forum who is or was a 9-1-1 dispatcher, but I don't know if they're still here. They could give you a better idea what the questions are. But CPR is taught with both no neck injury and neck injuries for EMTs. And the new standards, where breathes are not required, might negate the entire need to worry about this when there is a neck injury.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Joanna Hoyt
12-13-2010, 06:54 AM
Thank you very much for the clear and detailed answers!