Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell, who also serves as the chairman of the Lake Emergency Medical Services Board of Directors, spoke highly of Lake County’s public safety telecommunicators at Board of County Commissioners meeting on April 8, 2014. As he presented a PROCLAMATION approved by the Board of County Commissioners recognizing April 13-19, 2014 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week in Lake County, Commissioner Cadwell emphasized, “We have great public servants in the Lake EMS and Sheriff’s Office Communications Centers who are the first responders to emergency and non-emergency callers. In Lake County we have a great partnership between these two government agencies who respond to citizens calls.”

Lake County Board of County Commissioners meeting - April 8, 2014

Lake County Board of County Commissioners meeting – April 8, 2014

The Lake EMS and Sheriff’s Office Communications Centers have been co-located since the opening of the Lake County Emergency Communications and Operations Center in Tavares in April 2012.  The new 9-1-1 call center operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lake EMS staff on hand to accept the proclamation included: Gerald “Jerry” L. Smith II, Executive Director; Kimberly Stephens, Chief Communications Officer; and Margaret Clayton, Lead Dispatcher. Sheriff’s Office staff were also present to receive the acknowledgement and included: Sheriff Gary Borders; Maureen Hatcher, Director of Communications; and Shay Aldrich, Lead Dispatcher.

Sheriff Gary Borders thanked the telecommunicators for the great job they do providing life lines for the citizens of Lake County. Jerry Smith thanked staff also and noted that Lake EMS telecommunicators have dual accreditation in both Emergency Medical Dispatch and Emergency Fire Dispatch and that the agency also dispatches call for Lake County Fire and 13 local fire departments.

Lake Emergency Medical Services will honor its Communications Center staff the week of April 13-19, 2014.  This is the time frame designated by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week when communication centers around the United States recognize the invaluable contributions that EMS, police and fire telecommunicators/dispatchers make by being the first responders to emergency calls from citizens.

There is no such thing as a “typical” day in the Lake EMS Communications Center. Most Telecommunicators normally come to work at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. and begin a 12-hour shift that can include an exhausting spectrum of calls.  “When our dispatchers pick up the 9-1-1 line they never know what to expect,” explains Kimberly Stephens, Chief Communications Manager.  “They may respond to a nervous father whose wife is about to give birth to a baby, and end up helping deliver the child by giving medical instructions over the phone.  At the other end of the life cycle, we may get a call to send an ambulance to the home of a terminally ill senior citizen who needs to be transported to the hospital or a Hospice program.  And, of course, there are the calls from the scene of a vehicle crash where patients have life-threatening injuries and need to be airlifted to the nearest trauma center.  But, no matter who is on the other end of the line, our staff is trained to respond with the appropriate pre-arrival instructions which can help keep people alive until the ambulance arrives on site.”

Lake EMS has 28 full time and 4 part time employees operating its state-of-the-art Communications Center, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The skilled men and women who work in this center are often the first responders in an emergency situation and play a key role in protecting the property and lives of Lake County residents and visitors by providing medical instructions to callers.

The professional, calm responses from Communications Center staff are possible in large part to their extensive training which was part of the Center’s Accreditation in February 2009 as an Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence.  Emergency Medical Dispatch provides telecommunicators with a tool to provide callers experiencing medical emergencies with the appropriate pre-ambulance arrival care they need, as quickly as possible.  This nationally recognized system is used to allocate medical resources in the most appropriate, efficient and timely manner.

In October 2012, Lake EMS received a dual distinction when it earned Accreditation as an Emergency Fire Dispatch Center of Excellence. Lake EMS is proud of its accreditation in both fire and emergency medical dispatching as it gives the people, businesses, and communities of Lake County a stronger dispatch team responding to their calls. Between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, the Lake EMS Communications Center telecommunicators managed over 88,220 EMS and fire responses.