News Release Archive

The new emergency medical communications centre began operations
for mainland Nova Scotia this week. The centre employs highly
trained staff and the latest technology to provide a vital link
in the emergency health system.

When you call 911 with a medical emergency, your call is
immediately transferred to the emergency medical communications
centre. The communications officers who answer your call are
trained to give medical instructions over the phone. They are
able to determine the nature of the emergency and begin telling
the caller what to do until help can arrive.

"The call centre creates a zero-minute response time for people
with medical emergencies," said Health Minister Jim Smith. "The
communications officers act like over-the-phone emergency medical
coaches. They can help people start the Heimlich manoeuvre, CPR
or even begin delivering a baby."

Communications officers are experienced emergency medical
technicians. They have been trained to ensure people working in
the emergency health system respond quickly and safely to people
who need help. A software program called computer-aided dispatch
(CAD) processes and collects the large amounts of information
needed to ensure the system runs efficiently.

One of the most important functions of the CAD program involves
locating and positioning ambulance crews on a computerized map.
When a call for help is received, the CAD is able to show where
the call is coming from and the nearest available ambulance crew.
As ambulance crews move around the map, the CAD suggests where
they should be positioned to provide the best coverage.

The emergency medical dispatch centre is operated by NovaStar, a
Nova Scotian company. NovaStar was the successful bidder on a
request for proposals issued by the Department of Health to
provide a centralized system of dispatching emergency health

"The communications centre is bringing Nova Scotia EMS into the
next century," said Mike Renaud, NovaStar director of operations.
"We took the finest people Nova Scotia has to offer in emergency
medical dispatch and gave them state-of-the-art equipment. The
result will be the best emergency communications system in


Contact: Sue McKeage
         Department of Health

NOTE TO RADIO STATIONS: Audio copies of a 911 call in which a
communications worker helps a woman save the life of her newborn
are available for shipment via DCI one-hour courier by calling
collect 902-424-2876, or via telephone by calling collect

Actuality opens: "Her child is choking..." x-3mins 40secs.
Outcue: " called 911."

NOTE TO EDITORS: A backgrounder on the NovaStar emergency health
communications centre is available by calling 902-424-4492.

ngr                  September 5, 1997                11:05 am