Tue. Feb 18th, 2020

Volusia County has become the first in Florida to incorporate a nurse triage program into its 911 communications to better determine the appropriate response.Pam Cawood is the lead EMS triage nurse, working with six other RNs in the Volusia County’s Sheriff’s Office communications center to determine if a caller can be helped without an ambulance ride to the hospital. “We’re able to ask them very specific questions about their medical concerns, and then we’re able to according to protocols decide the appropriate resources to use,” Cawood said. All 911 calls go to trained county operators who recognize dire situations and dispatch ambulances and first responders. But not all calls need that kind of reaction, and that’s where the triage nurses come in.”I think it’s going to cut down on the ambulances being sent when they don’t need to be sent,” Debbie Rego said. Rego is the county communications training coordinator who put the triage nurses through 280 hours of learning how to answer 911 calls. The nurses then rely on knowledge and a software program that has levels of protocol. “Everybody is going to react in a way that they think is an emergency to them, but we’re here to reassure them that not everything is an emergency and we’re going to help them, we’re going to walk them through it,” Rego said.If an ambulance is not dispatched, triage nurses might send callers to urgent care or their own doctor. They might suggest over-the-counter medications, and they always makes follow-up calls.”We check on them and make sure our home care advice was followed and was appropriate,” Cawood said. In just two months, nurses have successfully triaged 20 percent of the callers they interact with, but if needed, they will always send a full emergency response.The nurse triage operators are in the 911 dispatch center from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., but if things go well, the county hopes to expand the program with around-the-clock 911 nurse triage operators responding.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —

Volusia County has become the first in Florida to incorporate a nurse triage program into its 911 communications to better determine the appropriate response.

Pam Cawood is the lead EMS triage nurse, working with six other RNs in the Volusia County’s Sheriff’s Office communications center to determine if a caller can be helped without an ambulance ride to the hospital.

“We’re able to ask them very specific questions about their medical concerns, and then we’re able to according to protocols decide the appropriate resources to use,” Cawood said.

All 911 calls go to trained county operators who recognize dire situations and dispatch ambulances and first responders. But not all calls need that kind of reaction, and that’s where the triage nurses come in.

“I think it’s going to cut down on the ambulances being sent when they don’t need to be sent,” Debbie Rego said. Rego is the county communications training coordinator who put the triage nurses through 280 hours of learning how to answer 911 calls.

The nurses then rely on knowledge and a software program that has levels of protocol.

“Everybody is going to react in a way that they think is an emergency to them, but we’re here to reassure them that not everything is an emergency and we’re going to help them, we’re going to walk them through it,” Rego said.

If an ambulance is not dispatched, triage nurses might send callers to urgent care or their own doctor. They might suggest over-the-counter medications, and they always makes follow-up calls.

“We check on them and make sure our home care advice was followed and was appropriate,” Cawood said.

In just two months, nurses have successfully triaged 20 percent of the callers they interact with, but if needed, they will always sen

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