Radio and telephone communications are the framework that binds the components of an EMS system together. The communications system links one emergency health care provider with other members of the emergency health care team 24 hours a day.
The heart of any EMS system is the communications control center. If this control center is the cornerstone of the EMS system, then the dispatcher is the key to the control center.
At OSF Life Flight, this department is called Flight Com, and it is staffed with Flight Communication Specialists with at least an EMT-B certification and/or extensive experience in medical communications, emergency dispatching, or flight communications; with all having obtained IAMTCS flight communicator certification, the industry standard for specialized training for helicopter emergency medical service communication, within the first two years of employment.
How it Works
Computers, sophisticated electronics including GPS satellite navigation tracking, telephones, computerized road and navigational maps, computerized radio consoles and standardized flight communication policies and procedures surround them.
At least one Flight Communication Specialist staffs the control center at all times. They work tirelessly to assure rapid patient access to a reliable and effective EMS system.
All communications and flight following for OSF Life Flight is done through Flight Com; as well Flight Com fields aero medical traffic calls for aircraft inbound to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center helipads. Their job is a critical link in the communications between multiple and varied EMS units throughout the State of Illinois.
During an average month, Flight Com receives thousands of telephone calls and helps regional patient transfers with nearly 150 trips by helicopter from hospitals in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana.
The Peoria Area EMS System, the largest in Illinois, is composed of a total of 72 EMS agencies. Of this total, seven are ALS squads, four are ILS (Intermediate Level Service), 47 are Basic (BLS), and 14 First Responder.