Effective July 1, 2012, dispatchers must be trained in the Emergency Medical Dispatch Protocol Reference System (EMDPRS).  EMDPRS is a system that “includes a protocol for emergency medical dispatcher response to calls, including structured caller questioning for patient condition, incident facts, and scene safety, pre-arrival instructions, post-dispatch instructions, selection of appropriate field resources to dispatch (such as first responder, basic life support, and/or advanced life support), and a continuous quality assurance program that measures compliance with the protocol through ongoing random case review of each emergency medical dispatcher.”  560 CMR 5.03.

In other words, if you answer 911 calls, you must be EMD certified.  This new training involves a process that is much more detailed than before.  Dispatchers will have to provide pre-arrival instructions and dispatch life support in compliance with written text of scripts and other processes within a Department-approved EMDPRS.  So, every request for medical assistance will involve the dispatcher following a set of policies and procedures for the safe and effective use of the Department-approved EMDPRS.

Furthermore, under these new regulations, each EMD resource must establish a continuous quality assurance, improvement, and management program that, at a minimum, must include: documentation of the quality assurance case review process utilized to identify EMD compliance with the EMDPRS; written approval of the EMD medical director; ongoing random case review in accordance with the guidelines of the EMDPRS; and regular feedback of performance results to emergency medical dispatchers.  In other words, there is the potential for liability and discipline.

If you are a dispatcher and are (or will be) in negotiations, I would advise that you raise these new regulations at the table when bargaining.  They add significant responsibilities and duties to your job.  Although it is mandated by the State, the Department should recognize the added work you are doing.

If you are not a dispatcher (e.g., a patrol officer) but are being asked to comply with these new certifications, call your union representative to discuss the probability that these new duties could be a change in your working conditions and thus should be bargained.


  1. I am currently an Emergency Telecommunications Dispatcher for the City of Brockton. We are the primary PSAP for the city, however we currently transfer all medical calls to the fire department for dispatch. As we are the primary PSAP should we be EMD trained? It is my understanding that the department decided it was not necessary due to the fact we transfer medical calls. Your input would be greatly appreciated in this matter. I am also referring this matter to our Union.

    1. If your PSAP arranges for EMD to be provided by a third party (i.e., a certified EMD resource), you do not need to be EMD certified. So, in your case, it sounds like your city provides for all EMD to be provided by the fire department (which should be certified as an EMD resource) and thus, it is not necessary for you to be EMD certified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *