Known to the City’s emergency responders as “The Turret”, the Boston EMS Dispatch Operations Center receives and prioritizes all incoming emergency medical calls, dispatches emergency units, coordinates with other public safety agencies and local hospitals, and maintains communication with all units in the field.
Boston EMS Dispatch Operations is co-located with the Boston Police 9-1-1 center at Boston Police Headquarters. Most 9-1-1 calls are initially received by Boston Police or Massachusetts State Police call takers. If a call is identified as medical in nature it is transferred to specially-trained Boston EMS Telecommunicators, who serve as the critical link between the public and the EMS crews on the street. All call-takers are uniformed EMTs who have received an additional 19 weeks of specialized training in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD).
EMS Telecommunicators verify EMS calls, determine their location, dispatch the appropriate units, and provide callers with pre-arrival instructions which assist bystanders or patients in caring for illness and injury before Boston EMS arrives on scene. These instructions are as basic as gathering a patient’s medications, or as extensive as guiding callers through CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). Additionally, through the “AED Alert” system, EMS Telecommunicators are able to advise bystanders of nearby Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) to be used in the case of a cardiac arrest. This ensures each patient receives the best possible medical attention until trained responders arrive – often making the difference between life and death.
EMS Telecommunicators employ a wide range of skills and technological assets to provide the best service to citizens in need. They are trained in mass casualty incident coordination and can communicate with Fire, Police and EMS agencies across the State. They operate the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system which is shared with the Boston Police Department and the Boston Fire Department.
Boston EMS operates the Metro-Boston Central Medical Emergency Direction (CMED) system providing coordination between EMS field providers and area hospitals throughout the 62 cities and towns in the metropolitan Boston area. Boston EMS telecommunicators staff the CMED Center 24-hours a day linking field providers to hospitals, managing EMS channel usage, providing EMS resource information, and offering command and control assistance during mass casualty incidents or disaster response in cooperation with on-scene commanders.