Mayor, EMS Honor Telecommunicators, Announces Improved 911 System
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For Immediate Release
April 17, 2009
Released By:
Emergency Medical Services
For More Information Contact:
Jennifer Mehigan

Mayor, EMS Honor Telecommunicators, Announces Improved 911 System

At an informal visit to Boston EMS Dispatch Operations Friday morning, Mayor Menino not only thanked Boston EMS telecommunicators - call takers and dispatchers who handle more than 100,000 calls for emergency medical services each year, but proudly announced the "AED Alert," a new tool to improve cardiac survival in Boston. Boston EMS, Police and Fire call takers and dispatchers are specially trained to handle difficult situations, and are the true first responders in an emergency. This week, Boston call takers and dispatchers are celebrating National Telecommunicators Week.

"Each and every day these dedicated Dispatch staff are the critical link between the public and the crews on the street. They are the calm, reassuring voice for a desperate caller while providing lifesaving information to the caller and crews on route to the scene," Mayor Menino said. "These people embody the true spirit of service by helping the public get through any crisis situation."

For the past few months, staff at Boston EMS has been updating the computer aided dispatch system to show the location of hundreds of automated external defibrillators (AED) in the City. An AED is a life-saving device used to treat cardiac arrest - when a person's heart stops beating. The improved system, known as the "AED Alert," will notify EMS dispatch staff of the nearest AED and if appropriate they will tell the caller to get it and will talk them through the steps. The AED checks a person's heart rhythm and audibly gives instructions to the user to provide a shock when necessary.

Sudden cardiac arrest can be fatal if not treated within a few minutes. CPR should be immediately begun when cardiac arrest is suspected. For example, Olivia Quigley, the 6-year-old girl who collapsed at an East Boston school in February, was saved by the combination of bystander CPR and an AED, among other treatment.

Boston EMS maintains a database of approximately 600 defibrillators throughout the City – mostly in public buildings, athletic clubs and large office towers. To have the most updated system possible, Boston EMS needs to know the location of every AED in Boston. Boston EMS can also help an organization choose the best defibrillator and train staff. If any business or organization has an AED – please contact Deputy Superintendent Claire McNeil at 617 343 1115. For more information about our programs, please see our website at

"The AED Alert is another tool for us to help the public in an emergency," EMS Chief Rich Serino said. "We expect more lives will be saved simply by us having this database of AEDs and being able to help callers use them. And for anyone who hasn't yet taken a course, now is the time to learn CPR and how to use an AED."

Call takers and dispatchers at Boston EMS are EMTs who have received an additional 19 weeks of special training with EMS dispatching, the CAD system, and mass casualty incident coordination training. Boston EMS also coordinates the ambulance to hospital radio traffic of EMS providers in 62 cities and towns surrounding Boston that make up EMS Region 4. Boston EMS Dispatch Operations is co-located with the Boston Police 911 center at Boston Police Headquarters.

Boston EMS teaches several courses throughout the year on CPR and how to use an AED. Check our website for more details. Remember, you are never alone in an emergency, call 911 for help.



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