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Posted on: April 13, 2021

Case Study: Importance of Teamwork and Communication in the Emergency Communications Center


Loudoun County 9-1-1 what is your emergency? My mom won’t wake up. Ok. What’s your address? I don’t know, I am in a hotel. Do you know which hotel? No. 

A routine call can become increasingly difficult when working with a young child that does not know where they are, what is going on, and cannot even leave the room to get outside assistance. Quickly the dispatcher is the only line of help to get aid to this child and their loved one. 

In December of 2020, this situation occurred in Loudoun County and it required teamwork, communication, technology and creativity to provide lifesaving assistance. The dispatcher, Justin, after hearing the child was unable to provide information on where she was located, triangulated the location using the cell phone. However, this provided two potential hotels. Justin fervently tried to ask the child questions to determine which was the correct hotel, but the child hung up the phone before he could determine it. While Justin tried to get the child back on the phone, units were dispatched to the area. Other dispatchers contacted the two hotels and worked with the front desk of each of the hotels to see if they had a family with a small child staying at their hotel or had a record of the cell phone number for a registered guest. However, neither hotel could specifically place the guests at their hotel. 

Luckily, Justin was able to get the child back on the phone while the units were arriving at the hotels. Justin tried to get her name & her mom’s name. The girl was only able to provide limited information. This required the team to figure out another way to identify exactly where the girl and her mother were located. The other dispatcher helping Justin, Arin, told Justin to ask the child if she could look out the window and see a fire truck or an ambulance. The child said she saw a fire truck. He asked the child if she could open the door and see the room number. She told him the door was locked and she could not open it. Arin told Justin to tell the child to stand up at the window and wave her hands so the units could see her and determine what room she was in. Medic 615C saw the child and was able to identify that she was on the 2nd floor from the top towards the middle of the building. Justin then instructed the child to knock on the door so Engine 611 could find the exact room she was in and help her mother. 

This situation required Justin to talk with the child in a calm, caring and compassionate tone while trying to rapidly get her help. Arin’s assistance to Justin by giving him instructions to tell the child to go to the window and wave, allowed the units to quickly locate the correct hotel and room number and aid the child’s mother. 

Having strong communication and teamwork skills combined with the ability to think creatively led to success in this case. This highlights the importance of working hard to build strong teamwork and to improve communication skills, as well as the importance of empowering your team to find solutions to difficult solutions.

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