Admissions & Aid
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 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.
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-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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 squad uses three lines:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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)):
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.
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.
To speak to a member of the crew:
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:
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 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):
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:
Group call allows you to activate all the portable radios in use (not just one person, like quick call). To use this:
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.
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:
If, for whatever reason, there is no answer at the number for hospital statuses and you are in the middle of an emergency:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
We can respond to emergencies only in the following locations:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The call log database is next.
Emergency calls can come in different ways, and there are some things to do in each case that are different:
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:
“This is 93John, dispatcher 808 requesting a standby for a 65 year old female in cardiac arrest. Our E.T.A. is 5 minutes.”
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.
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:
Sometimes, a second call comes in while the crew is responding to an emergency. If this happens:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.