Dispatcher's Manual

I. At a Glance

What EMS Does

The Brooklyn College Emergency Medical Squad provides emergency care services to the college community and the surrounding areas. Most volunteers are students who volunteer their time as EMTs, ambulance drivers, or dispatchers. Any student can volunteer without having any experience.

The Layout

The Brooklyn College EMS is located in 021 Ingersoll Hall and comprises one main room, two offices, and a storage room. In the front area is the dispatcher area that includes a desk, a base station, portable radios, and all equipment that the squad uses (both stored items and the various equipment bags) as well as bulletin boards for announcements and messages. When you walk in (even if it’s not for a shift), look around for any news that may concern you. If you need to leave anything for another member, mailboxes are located on the left side of the room by the bulletin board.

The main room also consists of a recreational area with a sofa, tables, a television, and a computer. You are encouraged to come in when you are not on shift to relax, do homework, or just to meet your fellow squad members. In one of the offices is another computer, which is available to all volunteers. The rule concerning computer use is that squad business comes first, followed by schoolwork and then games.

The People

BC-EMS has its own hierarchy. A board of directors assists the administrator, with each member responsible for a particular aspect of operations. To learn the names and functions of the board members, please look on the dispatcher’s desk. Each May, elections are held to choose the members of the board for the next year. You must be a member of BC-EMS for at least one semester to vote in the elections. Candidates for each position must meet certain qualifications.

The board of directors consists of:

BC-50: Administrator
BC-50A: Treasurer
BC-50B: Secretary
BC-50C: Public relations
BC-51: Chief of operations
BC-52: Deputy chief
BC-53: Training officer
BC-54: Equipment officer
BC-55: Safety officer
BC-56: Communications officer
BC-57: Personnel officer
BC-58: House officer
BC-59: Scheduling officer
BC-60: Faculty adviser

The duties of each board position are outlined carefully in the SOP Manual.

II. Starting Out


When someone comes to volunteer for the first time, he or she starts out as a dispatcher trainee. The role of the dispatcher is to receive the emergency information from a caller, relay it to the crew, and maintain communication with the crew during the call. In addition, each dispatcher is responsible for training dispatcher trainees in the “art” of dispatching.


All new members must be trained to become dispatchers, regardless of any special certifications (e.g., EMT, AFA) they may possess. This is to ensure that in the event a call comes in and there is no dispatcher on shift, any attendant, driver, etc., can stay in the office and dispatch while the rest of the crew responds to the emergency.

As a dispatcher trainee, you are asked to schedule two hours per week for training (at least one hour straight). During this time, you will discuss any questions you have with your dispatcher. Your dispatcher, in turn, will demonstrate the skills outlined in this manual and prepare you for quizzes. You will answer the phone and handle all real or training calls. The dispatcher is always in charge of the call, not the trainee. Especially in the case of an emergency, following the dispatcher’s instructions could mean the difference between life and death.

Each trainee is required to have been evaluated on at least three emergency calls (real or training) in order to become a dispatcher. At the end of each call a quiz will be given to you. If the dispatcher on duty does not feel that you are ready to become a full dispatcher after three calls, you will have to take as many calls as necessary in order to be ready. If the dispatcher on duty does feel that you are ready to become a dispatcher, you must then pass the dispatcher test in order to officially become a dispatcher. If you fail to do even the minimum requirements, your membership in the squad will terminate at the end of the semester. The work we do is serious, and we need dedicated individuals.

If a trainee does not receive too many calls on his or her shift, training calls will be scheduled. These will be arranged by the dispatchers and should be given regularly if no true emergency calls are coming in. Trainees should treat training calls as they would treat real emergencies, since they will not know if the call was real or fake until after the entire “emergency” was over. You will be evaluated after each call (real or training) and judged on your ability to gather the information from the caller, relay the information to the crew and communicate with the crew over the radio during the call. You will also be evaluated on how confident you are during the call and how well you complete the paperwork that accompanies each call.


Please be on time for your shift. If you can’t make your shift or if you’ll be late, be sure to call in and leave a message (as early as possible so that a replacement can be found). Each time you come in for a shift; note how long you stayed in the trainee logbook. If you are missing many shifts, we may ask you to leave the squad.

When you come into the office, check the bulletin boards for messages or notices. You must attend general membership meetings as well as meetings for trainees or dispatchers.

When You’re Proofed

Once you have passed all the written and practical exams and received the recommendation of your dispatcher, you will be certified. With your new status as dispatcher come several rewards. First of all, you will receive your very own one-of-a-kind squad number (from the personnel officer). Once you have that, you will also get a squad ID card, on which you can list your status and any certifications you may have (again, this is available through the personnel officer). New dispatchers also receive stylish uniform shirts with their name, which they wear for all of their shifts. Finally, as a dispatcher, you will need to pick four hours for your new shift.

Dispatcher’s Domain

The dispatcher’s desk and its immediate area is the dispatcher’s domain. The dispatcher signed on is responsible for maintaining the area’s order and cleanliness. “Order” includes not only the neatness of the room, but also quiet. Remember, as a dispatcher you are in charge here. Only three people should be in this area: the dispatcher and two trainees. (No more than two dispatcher trainees may sign in at the same time and no trainee may sign in without a dispatcher on shift or in the room.) If a crowd is forming, ask/tell the people in the room to quiet down. Don’t hesitate to ask nonmembers or anyone becoming a nuisance to leave,-especially during a call. During a call, no one should be in this area except the dispatcher and trainees. Always keep the door closed during a call.

In order to be perceived as professional, you have to look the part. All dispatchers must wear their uniform shirts on shift. When a dispatcher or trainee is on shift and finds that he or she has nothing to do, there are always chores to be done (e.g., sweeping the dispatching office, dusting the desk, emptying the garbage pails). You may do your homework at the desk, but please leave your coats and bags in another area. You may not eat at the dispatching desk. When you are on shift, you should be sitting at the desk (not in the back of the room with your friends). If there are two trainees on shift at the same time, they should alternate weeks for sitting by the phone.

When the phone rings, turn off the television or lower the volume. As soon as the dispatcher picks up the phone, there should be absolute quiet in this room. Remember, if it is an emergency, the dispatcher has to be able to hear the caller’s information. No iPods are permitted when you are on shift.

The dispatcher’s desk itself should be kept neat. There should be no clutter. The only things that should be on the desk are the log sheets/clipboard, logbook and scrap paper. Under the plastic cover, you will find various sheets of paper that have such information as:

  • A list of hospitals in the area and their emergency and non-emergency phone numbers
  • The phone numbers for MARS (where you get hospital statuses), poison control, the police department and other volunteer ambulance organizations
  • A list of the 10 codes
  • Instructions on how to check voice-mail
  • A list of the members of the board of directors and their beeper, or cell or home phone numbers (for your reference only; do not give these numbers out over the phone)
  • Other various useful information

III. Signing In and Signing Out

The Logbook

What to Write

Each time you begin and end a shift, you are responsible for noting the time in our logbook. As a dispatcher, you are responsible for keeping the logbook accurate. The logbook is a legal document and can be requested for reference in a court of law. Because of this, please be careful with how you write in it.

The following information should be recorded in the logbook:

  • Opening/closing the office
  • Signing in/out
  • Hospital statuses
  • Calls
  • All 10-codes given over the air by the crew chief or driver
  • Problems with the ambulance
  • Equipment taken home by an executive officer
  • Something nonfunctional in the office (e.g., broken equipment)

Make sure that you know what you are doing before you write in the logbook; if necessary, write on a piece of scrap paper first and let your dispatcher check it. If you do make a mistake, do not black out the error. Instead, simply put a single line through the mistake and place your initials above the line. Only use black or blue ink and write legibly.

Since the logbook is so important, everything that goes into it must be in chronological order. Note the time in the left margin using military time. For example, 1:00 p.m. would be written as “13:00.” Also, for times with only one digit (e.g., 9:00), use a zero in front: “09:00.” If something wasn’t logged, write “late entry” or “L.E.” in the margin and then put the time and the event that occurred. Late entries should be kept to an absolute minimum.

How to Write Names

When you sign in yourself or anyone else, use only the first initial and the last name. Then write “in as” followed by the person’s position. For signing out, do the same thing using “out as.” The abbreviations for the various positions are:

  • Dispatcher trainee: “disp. (t)”
  • Dispatcher: “disp.”
  • Attendant trainee: “att. (t)”
  • Attendant: “att.”
  • Driver trainee: “BC-2”
  • Driver: “BC-1”
  • Crew chief trainee: “Med-2”
  • Crew chief: “Med-1”

If more than one person is signing in or out at the same time, you can write the time once and place a comma between the people’s information. Below are a couple of examples:

  • 09:31 Y. Abraham in as disp., J. Krivoruk in as Med- l, S. Zacaraev in as att.
  • 13:06 E. Walsher out as disp., M. Hahn in as BC-l

As a dispatcher trainee, you will be asked to sign crewmembers in or out. Do not sign them in unless they are wearing their uniform shirts.

On a full crew, there would be a crew chief (Med-1), a crew chief trainee (Med-2), a driver (BC1) and a driver trainee (BC-2); up to three attendants or attendant trainees (BC Unit 1, BC Unit 2 and BC Unit 3); a dispatcher and up to two dispatcher trainees. This situation will rarely occur, but there will usually be a crew chief, a driver, at least one attendant and a dispatcher. During a call, the crew chief is in charge and all questions and issues should be directed to him or her. When there is no call in progress, the dispatcher is responsible for the office.

When someone signs on or off shift make sure to write/erase their name on the board above the dispatcher’s desk and to note their radio number and the channel they are on if they have taken a radio.

IV. The Phone

There are five telephones in the office, two of which are in the dispatcher area. During a shift, the dispatcher trainee sits behind the desk and answers the phone located there. Each time the phone rings, the dispatcher should pick up the other phone (near the computer) and listen on the line. This ensures that the information that the trainee gets from the caller is complete and accurate.

The Lines

The squad uses three lines:

  • 718.951.5858 is the emergency line, where most calls come in (but emergencies can be on any of the three lines).
  • 718.951.5859 is the line used for squad business.
  • 718.951.5850 is for personal calls.

Do not use any line other than 5850 for personal calls. If the line is already being used, you cannot make a call until the other person hangs up. If you expect someone to call you, be sure to give him or her that number. As the dispatcher or trainee, if a personal call comes in for anyone on 5858 or 5859, please ask the caller to call back on 5850. For all personal calls, the time limit is five minutes. If you see that someone is using the line for a longer period of time (or if someone is making a call on any line except 5850), don’t hesitate to tell that person to drop the line.

Using the Phone

When the phone rings, a light will go on near the line that the call is coming in through. The phone must be answered before the fourth ring or the voice-mail will answer it. To answer the phone, depress the lighted button and pick up the receiver. The correct (and only) way to answer the phone (regardless of which line is lit) is: “Emergency Medical, may I help you?”

To make a call within Brooklyn College, press the 5850 button (or 5859 if it is squad business) and the button will light up. You just need to dial the four-digit extension. To call outside the college, dial “9” and then the seven-digit number.


Besides emergency calls, the dispatcher often answers personal calls. Once the caller has asked for someone, ask who is calling and tell the caller that you will see if that member is in. Put the caller on hold. If the person is in, tell him or her who is calling and on what line. If the person is not in the office, tell the caller that you can take a message. When taking a message, use the pads that are available on the desk and be sure to include:

  • The caller’s name and organization (if applicable)
  • The caller’s phone number
  • The message (if any)
  • Your name (so that the person can refer to you if there are any questions)
  • The date and time that the call came in

After the message is complete, fold the paper in half and write the person’s name on the outside. Place the message on the bulletin board near the desk or in the squad member’s box.

Other Kinds of Calls

Occasionally, you will receive unusual requests over the phone. People may call asking for another office in the college. Though we do have a telephone directory, you are not an operator and you should not feel obliged to give out phone numbers. Especially if you are busy, it is sufficient to tell the caller that you cannot transfer calls within Brooklyn College and that the number for the operator is 718.951.5000. If someone calls for information on a patient, do not give it out. Each person treated by BC-EMS is entitled to confidentiality. Refer all such requests to BC-50 or BC-51.

V. The Radio

BC-EMS’s radio facilities are authorized by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), which regulates the equipment and its use. It is vital that you know how to operate the radio system and how to use it to communicate with others. Any violations of FCC regulations could subject the squad to penalties, including possible revocation of our license. All members of the squad are responsible for complying with the following procedures and regulations.

The squad uses a two-way radio communication system that consists of the base station and portable radios (“walkie talkies”).

The Base Station

The base station of the radio is located on the table to the left of the dispatcher’s desk. This is the piece of equipment that you will use to communicate with the crew. There is a microphone built into the base station, and when you speak you should not keep your mouth too close to the unit. The microphone is very sensitive and will pick up your voice from the distance of about 12 to 18 inches. It will also pick up noise from the office, so when using the radio be sure to tell others in room to keep the noise level down.

  1. To turn on the unit, flip the switch at the back of the base station (on the right). Wait for the message “Pager No. =” to appear after a self-test has been completed. To adjust the volume, turn the dial on the side of the unit.
  2. To transmit a message (speak), hold down the F3 button, wait a second and the message “Speak now” will appear in the display window. Keep the button depressed for the duration of your message.
  3. FCC law requires the announcement of station identification over the air at least once every hour. You do not have to do this because the base station automatically sends station identification signals every 20 minutes in Morse code tones.


How to Use the Portables

Below the base station are the portable radios used by the crew during the shifts. All the radios have a number on them. The dispatcher employs these identification numbers to keep track of which radios are being used.

  1. To turn these radios on or off, turn the volume control up or down. You will hear a tone after the radio’s self-test.
  2. To speak, press the PTT button (Push to Talk) and keep it down as you talk.
  3. In order to hear a message, you must release the PTT button.
  4. Each portable radio has various operating channels:
    • Channel 1: quick call
    • Channel 2: not currently used
    • Channel 3: to be used with old repeater
    • Channel 4: to be used with old repeater
    • Channel 5: our normal operating frequency
    • Channel 6: point to point (no repeater function)
    • Channel 7: security communications dept. (used to talk directly to security; when no dispatcher is on duty, can be used by security to notify us of an emergency)
    • Channel 8: security point to point
  5. When the portables are in their chargers, a green light means that the radio is charged, and a red light signifies that the portable is not ready to be used. A yellow light means that the radio is almost fully charged.
  6. When the radios are being used, a steady red light is always present when you are talking and the batteries are charged. If the battery is low, the red light will flash. If the channel is busy, a green light will flash.
  7. To set a portable to quick call, switch the channel selector to 1 and then press the squelch button above the PTT button.
  8. To deactivate quick call, switch to channel 5.

Radio Tests

All radio equipment should be tested every day to measure readability and strength. Using the following scale (the first number refers to strength (loud) and the second to readability (clear)):

  • 1 by 1: both poor
  • 3 by 3: both fair
  • 5 by 5: both good

You can also use intermediate numbers (like 2 by 3, 3 by 1, etc.). If you cannot get a positive measurement, correct the problem by adjusting the volume or ask the crewmember to change location and try again.

Equipment Logbook

The equipment logbook, located on the dispatcher’s desk, is used to record who takes out radios and when. It is your responsibility to make sure that it is accurate. Whenever a crewmember asks for a radio, note the number of the radio. Then, in the equipment logbook, write down the first initial and last name of the crewmember, the number of the radio that was taken out and the time. When the person returns the radio, write the time that the equipment was brought back in. This logbook is also used to record other equipment (e.g., keys to the ambulance, tech bags, etc.). Never forget to record when equipment comes in or out. If crewmembers change radios (as they occasionally do), sign the radio in under the first person’s name and then sign it back out with the new member’s name. This way, if anything happens to the equipment, we know whom to hold responsible.

VI. Communications

Basic Rules

  • When you are speaking over the radio system, never use any names.
  • To contact members of the crew, identify them by their functions (r.g., Med 1, BC-1, etc.).
  • Occasionally, a member of the board of directors has a radio but is not on shift. To contact this person, use his or her number, such as BC-50. All board members and their numbers can be found on the dispatcher’s desk.
  • To reach anyone else over the radio, use his or her initials. For example, if a crew chief on a call asked you (the dispatcher) if there was an attendant in the office, you could reply: “Affirmative, RC is in quarters.”
  • If a crewmember asks a yes or no question, answer “affirmative” or “negative.” This ensures that short, monosyllabic words will not be lost through the transmission.
  • Numbers should be pronounced as singular syllables. For example, instead of contacting the administrator by saying “Bee Cee Fifty” say “Bee Cee Five Zero.”

Talking to the Crew

How to Talk on the Radio

To speak to a member of the crew:

  • Identify yourself as “Med-base.”
  • Address the message to whichever function you are trying to reach (e.g., Med-1, BC Unit 2, etc.).
  • Wait for the crewmember to respond by repeating their function and saying, “Go ahead.”
  • State your message.


Disp: “Med-base to Med-l.”
Med-l: “Med-l, go ahead.”
Disp: “Please landline.”


10-codes must be used by all members during radio transmissions. If a crewmember uses a 10-code, the dispatcher must:

  • Acknowledge the code with: “10-4.”
  • Repeat the 10-code (and any accompanying message).
  • State the time.


Med- 1: “Med- 1 to Med-base.”
Disp: “Med-base, go ahead.”
Med-l: “I’m 10-27 to Ocean Avenue and Avenue M for gas ”
Disp: “10-4. You’re 10-27 to Ocean Avenue and Avenue M for gas at 13:45.”

Make sure that you know your 10-codes. You absolutely must know all the ones that are highlighted in the appendix of this manual.

Quick Call

Quick call allows the portable radio to be used as a pager. If a crewmember is in class during his or her shift, the dispatcher can contact him or her without disturbing the other students. Obviously, if the member is in class, do not contact him or her unless it is an emergency. When quick call is used, only one member will be reached (regardless if other members are also on quick call). To reach someone using quick call (when you want to just give a beep, not a message):

  • Punch in “0” followed by the radio number of the person you are trying to call.
  • Press “F4” (Tone).

Using this method, you must wait for the member to contact you so that you can give him or her your message. To use quick call and give a message at the same time:

  • Punch in the radio number.
  • Press”F3.”
  • Wait for the tone to end and for “speak now” to appear. You have 10 seconds to speak.
  • Make sure that your message has been received and acknowledged by the member.
  • If you finish your message before the time allotted, press “F3” to shorten the countdown. If you need more than 10 seconds, press and hold “F3” until the message is complete.
Group Call

Group call allows you to activate all the portable radios in use (not just one person, like quick call). To use this:

  • Punch in “011.”
  • Press “F1.”
  • When you see “Speak Now,” you have 10 seconds to give your message. If you finish your message before the time allotted, press “F3” to shorten the countdown. If you need more than 10 seconds, press and hold “F3” until the message is complete.

VII. Opening / Closing the Office

Now that you know how to use the radio, you can open and close the BC-EMS office (if you have a shift very early in the morning or very late in the evening). According to federal law, radio stations in the emergency services must sign on and off the air whenever the transmitting equipment is turned on or off.


To Sign on the Air
  • Turn on the base station. When “Pager No.= ” appears, keep F3 depressed and say:
    “This is station KMB-268 of the Brooklyn College Emergency Medical Squad, operating on the assigned frequency of 462.975 Megahertz. This is dispatcher (your squad #) signing on at (state the time).”

    • You should pronounce ‘two, six, eight” (not “two sixty-eight”).
    • The same thing goes for “four, six, two dot nine, seven, five.”
    • Say the time using the military system.
    • Trainees have no squad number and instead use the number 100.
    • Once you become a full dispatcher, you get a unique three-digit squad number.
    • You don’t have to memorize this message. It is located on a piece of paper near the base station.
  • Call security at extension 5511.
    • Say that you are calling from EMS and that you want to advise them that we are open.
    • Ask for a name from the person who answered the phone.
    • If you are asked for your number, just give your squad number (100 for trainees).
  • In the log book:
    • Write the time and “signed on the air, notified security of opening (security officer’s name), the crew members signing in.”
    • If anyone else is signing in, you can add him or her at the same time.
    • Example: 09:32 Signed on the air, notified security of opening (Gomez), R. Curran in as Med-1, J. Krivoruk in as BC-1, Y. Abraham in as disp., J. Doe in as disp (t).
  • Call RCC:
    • Dial 999-2928 (the number is located on the dispatcher’s desk).
    • When someone picks up, tell him or her that you are 93John and you would like to sign on.
    • Make sure to get their badge number.
    • If no one picks up, call again later.
    • Log it in the book [“Signed on with RCC (badge #609)”]
  • Get hospital statuses.
    • See section VIII
    • When calling for hospital statuses, ask the dispatcher to verify that we are signed on. If he or she says that we are not, call RCC again to make sure that they put us into the computer.
    • Log both the hospital statuses and that you verified that we’re signed on in the book.
Checking the Messages
  • Get a pen and paper.
  • Pick up 5858 and listen. If there is a rapid beeping, then we have messages.
  • If there are messages, Dial 5600.
  • At the prompt, enter our access code: 5859.
  • Listen to the prompt to pick one of the following options:
    • Press 1 to hear messages.
    • Press 4 to delete messages.
    • Press 5 to save messages
  • Write down the messages.
  • Hang up to end the call.


  • Keep F3 depressed and say: “This is station KMB-268 of the Brooklyn College Emergency Medical Squad, operating on the assigned frequency of 462.975 Megahertz. This is dispatcher (your squad #) signing off at (state the time).”
  • Turn off the base station.
  • Notify security that we are closed. Don’t forget to get a name.
  • Notify RCC that we’re signing off.
  • Verify with MARS that we are signed off.
  • Write down what you did in the log book.Example:
    18:09 signed off the air, notified security of closing (Officer Sheryl), All crew out, all equipment in.
    18:11 Signed off with RCC (#607).
    18:15 Verified sign off with MARS (#8676).

VIII. Hospital Statuses

Hospital statuses allow the crew to know which hospitals are accepting patients and which are not. BC-EMS only transports patients to a select number of hospitals, located collectively in “Brooklyn South.” We can call one phone number and get all the information we need for our area, instead of calling each hospital individually. Hospital statuses must be obtained during every shift, at least every four hours. Some possible statuses include:

  • OPEN: This means that the hospital is accepting all patients.
  • TOTAL: The hospital is not accepting any patients.
  • EDP: The hospital is not accepting emotionally disturbed patients.
  • OBG: The hospital is not accepting obstetric emergencies.

How to Obtain Hospital Statues

  • Be sure to have a piece of paper at hand. You may want to write down the names of the hospitals before you call, so that you can just write down the status next to each hospital name as you are on the phone.
  • Call MARS at the number 422-7393 (which can be found on the dispatcher’s desk).
  • Say: “This is 93John. Can I please have the hospital statuses for Brooklyn South?”
  • Write down what the person says.
  • Ask for the person’s dispatcher number.
  • Log the information in the log book.Example:
    14:05 Hospital Statuses: Kings Highway on TOTAL until 1600, Brookdale on EDP, all rest OPEN as per #678:
    8 Update the crew board.

During a Call

If, for whatever reason, there is no answer at the number for hospital statuses and you are in the middle of an emergency:

  • Call each of the hospitals on the crew board and tell them that you are calling from Brooklyn College EMS. Let them know that you are in the middle of an emergency and you need to know if that hospital is open.
  • Write down the responses you receive.
  • Let the crew chief know the statuses.
  • After the call is over, tell the crew chief what happened.

IX. The Crew Board

The crew board is located above the base station. It is used to record who is on duty, what radios members have taken out and hospital statuses.

To fill in the crew board:

  • Write the date.
  • Check the log book and make sure that whoever is on shift is on the board. Use only first names. If someone’s name is on the board and he or she has already signed out, erase the name.
  • Check the equipment log book and write down the radio number of each member on shift. Also record the frequency that the person is using on the crew board (“1” for quick call or “5” for normal use).
  • For hospital statuses, write the time that they were obtained near “as of:” and the person’s dispatch number near “as per:.” Then write the status of each hospital near its name.

X. A Call

You must be completely confident with handling a call. Of course, you are not expected to do everything right your first time, but you definitely are expected to know everything. This would be the time to really use your dispatcher. Practice with him or her. It doesn’t have to even be a training call, just ask for a scenario and go through the steps you would follow.

Call Numbers

Each call is given its own unique six-digit number. The first number is the last number of the current year, the next two numbers are the month, and the last three numbers is the number call we are up to in that month. For example: If we were up to the 13th call in December 2002, the call number would be 212013.

Ways of Getting a Call

By Phone

An emergency call can come in through any of the three lines (5858, 5859 or 5850). This is why it is vital that at least one line is always free.


The patient could just walk in. That’s just one reason why the dispatcher’s office should always be neat and quiet.

If a patient walks in:

  • Note the time.
  • Clear the dispatcher’s office.
  • Notify the crew chief.

This means that a crewmember or the entire crew was out and encountered an emergency. They can report it to the base using their radio.


Yes, sometimes even New York City needs us. The NYPD or FDNY EMS may ask us to respond to a call. While you’re on the phone, get all the information about the call as you normally would. Get the following information from the caller:

  • His or her name, badge number or dispatcher’s number
  • The job number

Put the caller on hold. Make sure that we have a crew chief on shift (not a crew chief trainee) and a driver (by looking at the crew board). The crew chiefs will then make the decision of whether or not we will respond, based primarily on whether the emergency is located within our response area. Under no circumstances is anyone but a crew chief allowed to decide that we will respond to this type of call. If no crew chief is available, the dispatcher or trainee can attempt to contact BC 50 or BC 51 if they are on campus. If not, then we cannot respond to the call.

Our Response Area

We can respond to emergencies only in the following locations:

  • Brooklyn College campus
  • P.S. 152
  • Midwood High School
  • Hillel House
  • Newman Center
  • Student Center

Under no circumstances can we answer a call in a private house.

If a call is out of our response area, write down all the information as you normally would and tell the caller that we cannot respond. If the caller is not from emergency services, tell him or her to dial 911 or the local volunteer ambulance service. Then let the crew chief know about the call and log it in the log book and the call log book.

Procedures During a Call

When answering the phone, stay calm so that you won’t miss any important information. If the caller is hysterical, your confidence will reassure him or her. It is your responsibility, regardless of the condition of the caller, to ask the right questions and get all the necessary information.

  • Get your clipboard. While the caller is on the phone, ask the first four questions on the call log sheet in the order they appear.
    • Telephone number the person is calling from. This piece of information is vital because if we get disconnected for any reason, we must be able to reestablish communication as quickly as possible.
    • Location of emergency. This is pretty obvious. We need to know exactly where the patient is so that we can respond. The caller can give you both a room number and a building or a general area (e.g., by the bike rack on Campus Road or on the front steps of Boylan Hall).
    • Nature of emergency. Again, it should be apparent why we need this info. The crew needs to know the severity of the emergency as well as what type of equipment they will need. If the emergency is severe, ask the caller if the patient is conscious, breathing, etc. Write down whatever the caller mentions. If the patient fell down and is having difficulty breathing, don’t write just “fall.” The crew needs to bring oxygen and if they have to come back to the office to get it, the delay could be dangerous.
    • Name of person calling. This is the last thing you should ask for.
  • Now, tell the caller that you are sending a crew out right away. Hang up and write the time that the call came in on the call log sheet by “RCVD” (Received).

From this point on, no one is to write anything in the log book. You are only working from the call log sheet. If anyone has to sign in or out, it must be done on the call log sheet. Later, you can transfer it to the log book, but only once the call is over and the crew is finished with the paperwork.

  • Tell your dispatcher about the call, even though he or she should have been listening on the other phone.
  • Tell the crew chief (not attendant, not driver, not a nosey member) about the call. If the crew chief is in the office, walk over and tell him or her. If the crew chief is out, contact him or her by radio. The message that you will give will be: Disp: “Please be advised that we have an emergency.” The crew chief will then ask you for the nature and location. Tell him or her exactly what the caller told you.
    Disp: “There is a female with difficulty breathing in 3420 Boylan Hall.”
  • If the crew chief gives you any instructions, follow them immediately. For example, if he or she asks you to notify BC Unit 1 and tell him or her to meet the crew chief at the scene, then do it and do it fast. Don’t forget any of the instructions the crew chief gives you. If necessary, write them down and/or ask the crew chief to repeat anything you missed.
  • The crew will be throwing 10-codes at you right and left, so be sure to know what to do with them. Remember, repeat the 10-code and state the time. Then, log the time on the call log sheet. If the code does not appear on the right side of the sheet, write the 10-code and the time under “List any comments or unusual occurrences.”
  • If the crew asks for hospital statuses, see when they were obtained last. If it was more than four hours ago (or if the crew member asks for more recent statuses):
    • Ask the crewmember to “stand by” (10-6).
    • Call the hospital statuses number and follow the same procedure. Tell the person on the line that you are in the middle of an emergency.
    • Get back to the crewmember and let them know the statuses.
    • If the statuses were obtained recently, you just have to let the crew know what they are.
      Disp: “Hospital statuses as of 12:21: Kings County is TOTAL, Brookdale is EDP and all the rest are OPEN.”
  • If the crew goes to the hospital, they will tell you they are “10-82” and give you the name of the hospital, along with some other information. Just repeat everything they say and state the time.
    Med-l: “We’re 10-82 to Brookdale with 1 female patient and an escort.”
    Disp: “10-4, you’re 10-82 to Brookdale with 1 female patient and an escort at 10:24.”
  • On the call log sheet, write down the hospital name and the time near “10-82,” and list anything else that goes along with this code under “Comments.”
  • When the crew is done, someone will give you a “10-98” or a “10-99” code, usually accompanied by a “10-2.” At this point, you must repeat the following message over the air:
    “10-4, you are 10-98 at (state time), this is station KMB-268, dispatcher (your squad #).”
    If you get another 10-code at the same time as the 10-98, do the same thing.
    Med-l: “We’re 10-93, 10-98, 10-2.”
    Disp: “10-4, you’re 10-93, 10-98 and 10-2 at 13:34, station KMB-268, dispatcher 100.”

You don’t have to memorize this. It can be found on a piece of paper near the base station.
Now, just sit back and wait for the crew to return. Remember, there is still no writing in the log book.


You survived the call, but it’s not completely over yet.

Finish the Call Log Sheet
  • The crew will give you a long sheet of paper called a PCR (a Pre-hospital Care Report). Right in the middle of the sheet (at the top) is a number. Write that number on your call log sheet near “PCR #” (at the top left).
  • Make sure that you have written the date on the sheet.
  • Write the first initial and last name of the crew chief and the dispatcher. Write the squad number of each person where it says “No.”
  • Finish the PCR.
  • While you have the PCR in your hand, fill in the information that is missing from the top. This may include the “Agency Code” (which is 07606 and can be found on the dispatcher’s desk), the “Location Code” (7095-Kings County) and the “Run Number” (the call number from your call log sheet). Then fill in the 10-codes (using military time). Although the PCR does not list 10-63, 10-88, etc., you can follow along if you know what each of the 10-codes means.
    • “Call received”= RCVD
    • “Enroute” = 10-63
    • “Arrived at scene” = 10-88
    • “From scene” = 10-82
    • “At destination” = 10-81
    • “In service” = 10-98
    • “In quarters” = 10-2

Before you go any further, if you are a trainee, write the following steps on a piece of paper first, and let your dispatcher check them before you proceed to write in the real books.

Log Book

Now you can go to the log book. Remember, everything here must be in chronological order, so if anyone signed in or out during the call be sure to include that in the order of the call. For all the call information, write down the time and then the 10-code followed by the call number.

13:01 RCVD, call #203000.
13:03 10-63, call #203000.
13:04 D. Stern out as disp., Y. Abraham in as disp.
13:05 10-88, call #203000.
13:19 10-82 to Maimonides Hospital with 1 unescorted female patient.

If more than one 10-code happened at the same time, you could write them on the same line.

Call Log Database

The call log database is next.

  • Ask the dispatcher on duty to sign in and fill in the info. The “Patient Name” can be found on the top of the PCR. The “Call Type” is the “nature of emergency” from your Call Log Sheet.
  • Write the times of the 10-codes in the appropriate columns. If a 10-code doesn’t apply (for example, 10-82), just skip it. “Disposition” refers to the patient’s status at the end of the call. If the patient went to the hospital, write down the name of the hospital here. If the patient refused medical attention (RMA), write down “10-93.” The crew chief’s “EMT #” can be found at the bottom of the PCR. “SFEO” refers to the patient — was he or she a student, faculty member, employee or other? You can ask the crew chief for this info, as well as for patient diagnosis. Finally, put the dispatcher’s name in the last column.
  • Prepare a new call log sheet for the clipboard. Write the next call number on the top.
  • Take the call log sheet for the call and staple it to the PCR. Then put both in the PCR box on the dispatcher’s desk.

Special Cases

Emergency calls can come in different ways, and there are some things to do in each case that are different:

  • Security: On the call log sheet, the “telephone number” is “5511.” The “name of person calling” is the officer’s name.
  • Walk-ins: The “location of emergency” is “walk-in.” Put a line through “telephone number” and “name of person calling.”
  • Flag down: The “name of person calling” is the crewmember’s name or squad number. Write “flag down” by “telephone number.”
  • 911: Write “422-7393” by “telephone number” and write the person’s dispatch number by “name of person calling.”

XI. Other Stuff

Hospital Standbys (10-51 or 10-52)

When a crew chief asks for a standby, it means that a hospital’s emergency room personnel must be waiting for the ambulance when it arrives. The crew chief would ask for this when the patient’s condition is very serious (e.g., cardiac or respiratory arrest or major trauma). To request a standby:

  • Ask the crew chief for a baseline set of vitals (blood pressure, pulse, level of consciousness, etc.) and any other info he or she wants relayed to the emergency room. Also ask him or her for an E.T.A. (estimated time of arrival).
  • Look on the dispatcher’s desk for the number of the hospital’s emergency room.
  • When you call, identify yourself:
    “This is 93John, dispatcher (squad #) requesting standby for (state the type of case enroute) with an E.T.A. of (give time obtained from the crew chief).”

“This is 93John, dispatcher 808 requesting a standby for a 65 year old female in cardiac arrest. Our E.T.A. is 5 minutes.”

Hospital Notification

In this case, the crew chief would just like the hospital’s emergency room to be aware that the ambulance is bringing in a particular case. Clearly state to the E.R. that this is only a notification, not a standby. Use the same speech as in #2 above, simply substituting “notification” for “standby.” Never mistake a standby and a notification — they are very different.

Calling for Paramedics

Sometimes, you will have an emergency that necessitates transport, but there is no driver on shift or in the office. Or, the emergency requires more advanced life support skills than we can provide. In this case, Paramedics must be called.

If the crew chief asks you to call for ambulance because we don’t have a driver:

  • Call 422-7393 (the number for hospital statuses). Identify yourself as 93John and tell them that you need an ambulance to transport a patient. Give them whatever information about the patient that the crew chief has given you.
  • Brooklyn College’s official address is 2900 Bedford Avenue. The crew chief will usually give you a specific location where the crew will meet EMS.
  • Ask the EMS dispatcher for an E.T.A.
  • Don’t forget to get the dispatcher’s number and the job number. If you need paramedics for advanced life support, follow the same procedure, but be sure to tell them that you need paramedics and the reason.

Second or Third Calls

Sometimes, a second call comes in while the crew is responding to an emergency. If this happens:

  • Stay calm.
  • Take down the information as you normally would.
  • Notify the crew chief of the location and nature of the call.
  • If there is another crew chief in the office, let the crew chief on shift know.
  • Follow the instructions of the primary crew chief.
  • No one may respond without the primary crew chief’s directions.


This is a very special 10-code used by crewmembers if they ever are in a situation where they feel their lives are in danger. A 10-13 is given by a crewmember, usually with a location. If no location is given, tell the authorities to proceed to the location where the crewmembers were last and try to determine a location from the crewmembers. In the event a 10-13 is given, the dispatcher must:

  • Notify the crew chief (if he or she is not with the crew that is in danger).
  • Notify security if the call is on campus.
  • Notify the police department (911). When calling security, tell them the location and that your crewmembers’ lives are in danger. Stay calm. Your quick and effective response will ensure that the crewmember’s lives are not endangered. Record everything that happens during a 10-13 in the log book.


This is a very important code to know. Sometimes, the radio communication is very poor and you will not be able to hear what your crew is saying (this usually happens in certain areas of buildings or when the crew is in a hospital). If you cannot understand a radio transmission:

  • Ask the crewmember to 10-5 (repeat the message).
  • If you still cannot hear the message, ask the person to landline (which means that he or she will call the office by phone).

Opening and Closing Mileage

Every day, the ambulance’s opening and closing mileages must be recorded. The driver will reach you over the radio and give you the mileage:

  • Have a piece of paper nearby to write the number.
  • Repeat it to the driver, one number at a time.
  • Record the mileage in the log book.

BC 1: “Standby for today’s opening mileage.”
Disp: “Go ahead.”
BC1: “Today’s opening mileage is 4356.”
Disp: “10-4, opening mileage is four, three, five, six.”

In the log book, you would write:
09:31 Opening mileage: 4356


Another unlikely, but possible, event is that you may need to move from the dispatcher’s desk. If you do have to move, bring the clipboard, log book, and a portable radio with you.

XII. Radio Codes

  • 10-2 — Report to base
  • 10-3 — Call the base
  • 10-4 — Acknowledged message
  • 10-5 — Repeat message
  • 10-6 — Stand by
  • 10-7 — Verify call location
  • 10-10 — Request Police Department at scene
  • 10-11 — Request Fire Department at scene
  • 10-12 — Give report from scene
  • 10-13 — Emergency assistance needed (specify location)
  • 10-20 — Location
  • 10-27 — Going for food or gas (specify)
  • 10-28 — Going on squad business
  • 10-39 — Any messages?
  • 10-51 — Request medical standby at hospital (specify)
  • 10-52 — Request trauma standby at hospital (specify)
  • 10-53 — Car collision
  • 10-58 — Second ambulance crew needed at scene
  • 10-59 — Fire
  • 10-62 — Out of service (specify)
  • 10-63 — Unit responding to call
  • 10-81 — Unit arriving at hospital with patient (specify)
  • 10-82 — Unit leaving with patient to hospital (specify)
  • 10-83 — DOA
  • 10-85 — Rendezvous with another unit
  • 10-87 — Cancel
  • 10-88 — Unit arrived at scene
  • 10-90 — Unfounded call
  • 10-93 — Refused medical attention (RMA), signed release
  • 10-94 — Patient treated by BC-EMS and removed by another agency (specify)
  • 10-96 — Patient gone on arrival of crew
  • 10-98 — Unit available by radio
  • 10-99 — Unit available by phone or pager

The codes in bold are codes that are used pretty often — make sure to memorize them. The underlined codes are those that are used during a call.

XIII. Short Terms

  • Affirmative — That is correct.
  • Bus — The ambulance
  • Cardiac Arrest — A condition in which the patient has no pulse and is not breathing
  • DOA — Dead on Arrival (10-83)
  • ETA — Estimated Time of Arrival
  • FDNY — Fire Department, New York
  • Flag Down — When the bus gets stopped on the road for an emergency
  • Forthwith — Immediately
  • HAZMAT — Hazardous materials
  • Hospital Notification — To inform the hospital that the crew is coming
  • Hospitals Standbys — To tell the hospital to be waiting for the crew
  • Landline — Telephone
  • Negative — That is not correct.
  • NYPD — New York Police Department
  • Paramedics — EMTs with a higher level of training
  • Respiratory Arrest — A condition in which the patient is not breathing
  • Standby — Wait a second (10-6).
  • T&R — Treat and Release. Hospitals will not admit this type of patient.
  • Walk-ins — When a patient walks into the office

Brooklyn. All in.