The Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) and Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC), Utah’s largest 911 Call Center, have partnered on a job-shadowing program to better serve Utah citizens. As the largest public safety answering point (PSAP) in Utah, VECC answers 911 calls throughout the valley up to 4,000 calls a day, approximately one million calls a year. As both VECC and the UPCC better understand each other’s strengths, they can more effectively provide vital free services to Utah citizens.
Gigi: We’ve worked with the poison center for years and would often see them at community events. During one of these events, we started discussing the ideas of a job share. We wanted to accurately determine when we should send calls to the UPCC. We both wanted to build the relationship.
Missy: I sat in with the poison center and was immediately impressed with how much knowledge the poison specialists have. I have assumed that most of their information would come from a big database. This is how it works at 911—we have instructions for different situations. But at the UPCC, the database is in the heads of workers. The toxicologists and the specialists use their extensive knowledge to immediately answer questions and provide instruction.
People who call 911 or the UPCC are usually in a panic, so a big part of the job is to remain calm and be able to help the callers to provide useful information. The poison specialists at the UPCC are excellent at this. They are also excellent at follow-up—they follow up on each and every call. Everyone listens in on the calls and jumps in to help when needed. This is important because the person calls back, any one of the specialists can talk to them which makes the follow-up more effective.
Gigi: The partnership helps both 911 and the UPCC to better serve the public in an efficient manner. We have complete confidence that when we hand off a caller to the UPCC they will be taken care of in the best possible way.
The partnership also helps to better manage healthcare resources in Salt Lake Valley because we can better utilize the EMS rigs that re sent out. The UPCC can often provide callers with options to handle situations at home, without the need of an ambulance. Our 911 dispatchers don’t always have the knowledge to determine whether an ambulance is needed on poison-related calls. The UPCC specialists can make those assessments. Families aren’t saddled with the costs of an unnecessary emergency room visit and EMS resources are not wasted.
Missy: The UPCC is also vital in the emergencies to relay information to the emergency medical personnel when they are en route to an accident. This information helps the EMS professionals be better prepared when they arrive at the scene. The open line of communication between the UPCC and 911 allows 911 to provide the EMS workers with information about exposures and other potential hazards they may find when they arrive at an accident site.
Gigi: We have learned so much because of this partnership and are excited to see the relationship grow and develop.