Often times there exists a lack of communication with, or within, a communications center.
When we have a miscommunication with a sales associate on a clothing purchase or with a fast food order we maybe displeased with the service or product you receive, but we go about our day. When dealing in the field of public safety, a miscommunication could be fatal to the responder or the citizens we serve.
So here are a couple of key things to remember:
An important key to good communication is common terminology. Dispatchers and responders alike need to use the correct terms set by their jurisdiction. One word or code may mean something in one area that could be completely different in another. There are also many words and sounds in our vocabulary that can easily be confused such as “B” with “D” and “F” with “S”. Terms set by standard operating procedures or SOPs limit the chance of a potential misunderstanding and they should be followed implicitly. Professionalism is a must and if each person chose their own lingo, something could be misinterpreted. The end result could be tragic.
Clarification – What did they say???
When there is any question with what a unit or dispatcher says, measures need to be taken to clarify the transmission. Ignorance is never OK. When you don’t know what was said, the extra effort needs to be made to communicate effectively back to the dispatcher. Words can be repeated or worded in a different manner to ensure the message was properly received. Repeating part of the transmission back to the sender ensures the message was copied accurately. Sometimes providers or dispatchers alike want to blame the miscommunication on laziness, forgetfulness, attitudes, on each other.
Think about it….
It is important to put the shoe on the other foot and understand that sounds of communications are not limited to what we are trying to say over the radio.
Have you ever been on a responding unit?
Have you had to listen to sirens, cars, an engine, other radio channels or a patient screaming?
Have you had to concentrate on a patient or on driving?
Have you ever sat in the dispatch center?
Have you had to listen to additional phones ringing, coworkers yelling information to you, taking emergency calls or answering more than one radio channel?
Although none of these are necessarily an excuse, they are things that responders and dispatchers may need to think about when a message is inaudible or not heard or responded to immediately.
A little extra understanding and putting forth effort to guarantee accurate communication will be life saving.