Reliable and rapid communication is essential for the efficient operation of a transport program. Communication systems that support transport programs are of three varieties: 911 emergency dispatch centers, communication centers within emergency departments, and communication centers dedicated solely to transport programs. Centers that support EMS as well as transport programs are generally more economical. This combined function also helps facilitate the integration of EMS and the transport program. However, 911 dispatch centers are usually governed by agencies other than hospitals and therefore may not be responsive to the needs of the transport program.
The dispatch center should have equipment capable of coordinating communications among referring and receiving medical personnel, transport attendants, vehicle operators, local EMS providers, and area air traffic controllers. Coordinating communications may require the integration of local and long-distance telephone lines, cellular telephones, UHF and VHF band radios, and radio pagers. Ideally, the dispatch center should also have a device for recording all communications.
Transport vehicles should be equipped to provide the same range of communications as the dispatch center. At a minimum, both UHF and VHF band radios are required. Cellular telephones should also be considered in regions where cellular coverage is extensive. Telephones offer the advantage of user friendliness and a style of communication with which more medical personnel are familiar.
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