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I-Team: City insists all 911 call-takers are medically trained

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CINCINNATI - The city of Cincinnati used Twitter to react to an I-Team investigation revealing not all 911 operators are medically trained.

The tweet contradicts the results of an I-Team investigation showing some people who answer 911 calls in the city's Emergency Communication Center disconnected emergency calls because the operators and dispatchers were not trained to give medical advice .

" ALL our full-time 911 call-takers & fire dispatchers (plus all but 6 police dispatchers) can give medical direction over the phone," the city tweeted Wednesday.



In an email dated May 9, responding to the I-Team's request for more information, the city's director of emergency communications, Joel Estes, insisted, "all of our E911 Call-Takers are EMD certified."

Three current police dispatchers told the I-Team at the time that the full-time operator who answered Rhonda Andrews' heart attack call, and several other "dispatch and disconnect" medical calls the I-Team reviewed, was not Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) certified.

When confronted with this information in a reply email from the I-Team, Estes confirmed that the operator was not medically trained, but did not include her in the original statement indicating, "all of our E911 Call-Takers are EMD certified."

Estes said she didn't count because she, "returned as a temporary employee." He added, "because we weren't sure if she was going to stay, we didn't schedule her for EMD training when we had full-time employees who needed it."

Because of the hiring freeze, the operator in question can't be fully reinstated, but the dispatchers told the I-Team she is working full-time as an operator without the medical training. Estes responded, "nevertheless she is now scheduled for EMD training next month."

Also contradicting the city's tweet, Estes admitted in an email to the I-Team that Cincinnati's Emergency Communications Center can not currently qualify for accreditation from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

"We are not NAED accredited because we have not yet been able to get everyone EMD certified," Estes wrote.

You can read Estes' emails below or at http://goo.gl/2SmeX .

Update Wednesday at 4:01 p.m.

A current police dispatcher with the city told the I-Team that the full-time 911 operator who disconnected Rhonda Andrews' heart attack call and many other 911 calls received Emergency Medical Dispatch training last week.

Sources within the Emergency Communications Center said that the training schedule was accelerated right after the I-Team started asking questions about the lack of training for police dispatchers.

Those sources also told the I-Team that their managers changed the rules allowing EMD certified dispatchers to give medical advice even if their certification was obtained years ago, or if they had not completed the previously-mandatory shadowing with a fully-trained operator.

You can read the original I-Team report at http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/i-team-is-911-in-the-city-of-cincinnati-a-game-of-roulette

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