Officials: Ore. dispatchers unable to help callers locate AEDs

“Right now we do not have a way to tie in where AEDs are during a 911 call,” performance manager Mark Chandler said

By EMS1 Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. — A recent study showed that 911 dispatchers in Portland will help you perform CPR on a cardiac arrest patient, but they are not able to help you locate an AED.

KXL reported that Oregon Health and Science University doctor Jonathan Jui, who is also the medical director of the Multnomah County Emergency Medical Services, helped locate 4,884 AEDs in three counties with a contest involving community members documenting AED locations.

“It was a very big success within the metro area,” Dr. Jui said. “The challenge that occurs is the actual linking of the actual map to the providers or the citizen bystanders that are aware of the value of the AED and when to use it.”

However, Portland 911 emergency communications supervisor Todd DeWeese said dispatchers are unable to tell callers where the AED locations are.

“No we do not have any information like that at all,” DeWeese said.

911 performance manager Mark Chandler said dispatchers focus on getting CPR started instead.

“In previous CPR instructions we have had, we would ask the caller about AEDs and whether they are available or not and a lot of callers did not understand that question or they typically were not available,” Chandler said. “That delayed the compressions on, so right now there is no way for that.”

DeWeese said that since there is no regulation for the AEDs to be registered, anyone can purchase one, so there is no easy system put in place for people to notify dispatchers of a new location, but implementing one could be beneficial.

“Anything that can help save a life, I think is useful,” DeWeese said. “It would be a matter of figuring out how to use that list. You know if the caller is by themselves? Are they going to have to leave the person to go get one versus starting CPR right then?  That’s a decision that has to be made as well.  So it may be useful and there may be time where maybe it’s better they just stay on the phone with us and just continue doing the compressions at that time.  You know it’s kind of a situational thing.”

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