New Richmond’s 911 system aims to change call taking and improve emergency response

A new system aimed at improving emergency response will change the way Richmond callers provide information to 911 starting this week.

The Richmond Emergency Communications Department went live with the new protocol system at 10:00 a.m. on October 10.

With the new system, the ministry’s 911 attendants will follow a structured decision tree when interviewing those who call or text 911 for emergency assistance. This system helps ensure that the correct response is sent as quickly as possible. It also ensures that responders get the up-to-date information they need during the ride and that callers receive consistent and clear instructions on what to do until responders arrive to keep everyone safe. .

It is unclear whether the new system has been implemented due to recent citizen complaints of unanswered 911 calls in some cases.

“It is very important that callers understand that this standard of questioning in no way slows down the response,” said Stephen Willoughby, director of the department of emergency communications and emergency management coordinator for the city of Richmond.

“As before in an emergency, we will dispatch police and firefighters as soon as we know the location of the emergency and the type of help needed,” Willoughby said. “It’s important that callers stay on the line and answer questions in the order they are asked to provide additional information and obtain life-saving instructions that could save a life.”

Information provided by callers is automatically sent to dispatchers and first responders, usually while en route to the scene of the emergency. Depending on the type of emergency, callers may be asked to provide descriptions of the people, vehicles and weapons involved to help first responders know what to expect once there and to help solve crimes. Operators also provide pre-arrival instructions to help the caller and passers-by help themselves and others and reduce threats.

With this system, call takers and dispatchers follow nationally recognized standards and research-based protocols that are continually reviewed and updated by top professionals and medical associations, according to the private company that holds it. provides, Priority Dispatch.

Emergency Communications Department callers and dispatchers have received extensive training on the Priority Dispatch System™ and continuous quality improvement. All emergency dispatchers working on the new system are certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED™) and must recertify every two years, complete 24 hours of ongoing dispatch training, and meet all requirements recertification from the IAED.

“At IAED, our goal is to help the emergency dispatcher do their job better,” said Jeff Clawson, chair of the rules committee for the IAED Medical Standards Council. “This system increases safety and efficiency for first responders and creates better outcomes for callers.”

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