Taking recipient design seriously in the context of emergency medical services


Ikeya, N. Taking recipient design seriously in the context of emergency medical services. 11th International Pragmatics Conference; 2009 July 12-17; Melbourne, Australia.


With the recent increase in calls for emergency medical services, operators’ work has drawn some attention; one concern has been how to more effectively and efficiently manage the process of getting the patient appropriate care both before they arrive and at the destination hospital. When the institution approached the researcher, they wanted to explore ways in which they could improve their process of delivering their services without changing their legal framework, including the current condition in which the institution is to treat calls equally, not refusing any calls for services in principle. The project focused on the study of operators’ practices for taking calls and dispatching ambulances including how the analytical work of identifying and locating skills in the dispatch team capabilities can provide insights for members’ better practices. This paper describes some of the ways in which operators acquire and formulate information in terms of locating the patient and navigating the dispatched ambulance members. There are in fact two different ways of handling the calls: one is a method where the call taker did not attempt to acquire much information of the patient’s medical condition beyond the callers initial description, and the other is a method where the call taker asked for the patient’s medical condition beyond his or her first description. The analysis shows that in the latter method, information is acquired and is formulated in such a manner so that it allows the dispatched team to anticipate what kind of patients they are fetching, what kind of condition he/she will be in, what kind of equipment they should take to the destination, and to which hospitals they should take the patient. Recipient design is revealed in the differences between the way the operators communicate with the dispatch teams, helping them to design the scope of their activities in response to the patients information as formulated. The former method tends to focus on locating the patient and navigating the dispatched members to the patients location, whereas the latter method tries to take other kinds of dispatched members’ activities into consideration. The study eventually led to a policy change where a group of people who were believed to carry out the work of taking the call with the idea of designing dispatched members work in a more fully fledged manner would overtake the other group with the method of narrower scope.

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