In emergencies, minutes are critical and can mean the difference between life or death. To improve public safety in the Dayton area, LifeFlight and the City of Dayton have teamed up to install a direct phone for air ambulance requests.
The direct phone uses a land line linked to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston where LifeFlight air ambulances are based. In the event of an emergency, a Dayton police dispatcher can simply pick up the phone and relay the request for assistance. Previously, dispatchers were having to call in and go through a couple extra steps before reaching a LifeFlight dispatcher. The direct phone can also be used by police department personnel if dispatchers are tied up with other emergency calls.
The direct phone donation for Dayton PD was arranged by Firefighter Alvin Burress and LifeFlight’s Josh Cools, paramedic and business development manager. After hearing that LifeFlight donated a direct phone to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office earlier this month, Burress asked Cools to provide one for the City of Dayton.
Burress, as a former councilman, worked with city leaders to help improve Dayton Fire Department’s ISO rating to a 2, a historic achievement for the City of Dayton. While working on the ISO rating, Burress learned how little things, such as providing just the right equipment to firefighters, could have a great impact on the rating. The PD’s dispatch center is linked to emergency response time, another factor in the ISO rating system, because dispatchers handle calls for help and ensure that equipment and personnel reach the right destinations.
“The simplest thing we’ve gotten away from – a phone – is the most reliable way to get LifeFlight. At any point in time, we could have numerous things going on in the dispatch center with just two dispatchers on duty. With the direct phone, they won’t have to tie up another line calling LifeFlight. The whole point of this is simplicity,” Burress said.
Should the dispatch center’s digital network drop, the LifeFlight phone will continue to work, according to Burress.
In the course of a year, calls for LifeFlight to Liberty County number at around 100, according to Cools. Eighty percent of these calls are for trauma caused by vehicle crashes, shootings, stabbings, falls and other major accidents. Medical calls for heart attacks, strokes and other maladies make up the rest.
Most of the calls to LifeFlight are from Liberty, Dayton and other areas outside of Cleveland. While LifeFlight serves the Cleveland area, Cools said that most of the air ambulance calls in Cleveland are handled by AirMed and PHI.
Dayton City Manager Theo Melancon is pleased that Dayton is part of a partnership with Hermann Memorial LifeFlight.
“I think everything that the City of Dayton has been marching toward is to try and improve city services across the board. Anytime we can save time on response and help out our dispatchers is a win. The dispatchers are the unsung heroes of our public safety response. They are the lifeline for our officers, fire department, EMS and LifeFlight. Anything we can do to make their work simpler is all right by me,” Melancon said.
The direct phone for Dayton PD is the third device that LifeFlight has installed in pre-hospitalization settings, such as police dispatch centers. The others are in the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and West Columbia Police Department.