Life-saving work


Thank you for publishing the article “Dispatchers to get medical training” about the Oxford County dispatchers receiving Emergency Medical Dispatch training (Dec. 12).

It is important for Maine people to know that after Jan. 1, when they call 911, the answering dispatcher will be trained and certified to give medical instruction until the ambulance arrives.

I would like to clarify a misstatement in the story.

The article stated that dispatch units were only given four months to train personnel. In the 2005 state legislative session, Stephan Bunker, Emergency Services Communications Bureau, Maine Emergency Medical Services and the American Heart Association in Maine, put forward EMD legislation that was signed into law giving dispatch units 18 months, not four, to comply with the Jan. 1 deadline. Funding for the training and certification is provided by the state.

In 2005 in Maine, 911 received approximately 587,000 calls; many were requests for emergency medical assistance. At that time, approximately 38 percent of public safely answering points in Maine were not providing emergency medical dispatch. Emergency medical dispatchers become the “first” first responder, and they can calm panicked callers and assist them with first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction.

EMD has been credited with saving the lives of innumerable victims. Now, every person who calls 911, regardless of where they live, will have an equal opportunity to benefit from potentially life-saving medical emergency instruction.

Dennise D. Whitley, director,

Advocacy-Maine, American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association,