Dane County Government
Public Safety Communications (911)

Priority Dispatch

Dane County Public Safety Communications is proud to be the first 9-1-1 center in Wisconsin to utilize (Medical and Fire) dispatch protocol systems certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED).

The Academy began in 1988 as a standards-setting organization for the field of emergency medical dispatch.

The original program, created more than 30 years ago by Dr. Jeff Clawson, was comprised of a set of key questions, post-dispatch, and pre-arrival instructions for medical emergencies that dispatchers could provide over the telephone. High dispatcher compliance to a medically approved, standardized protocol was Dr. Clawson's concept for managing emergency service resources in critical patient care.

Today, this system of dispatch instruction has evolved into three separate protocols for Medical, Fire & Police. Our agency currently utilizes only the Medical & Fire systems. The protocols - medical & fire - are based upon the same time proven methods developed with over 30 years of research, testing, and quality assurance.

Following the Medical & Fire Emergency Dispatch System protocols, Communicators ask callers a series of questions. These questions are designed to gather specific information which helps assure we are sending the right help to the right place at the right time.




All Communicators and Communications Supervisors are trained and nationally certified in interrogation techniques, pre-arrival instructions, and call prioritization. The training includes techniques for airway management, bleeding control, CCR, the Heimlich maneuver, childbirth. Communicators also receive instruction for providing help to callers in danger, maybe trapped in a burning building, or a sinking vehicle. These types of instructions improve safety for everyone involved, while allowing for a streamlined arrival interface when help arrives at the incident location.

All training is provided by National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) instructors.

Continuing Dispatch Education (CDE) insures that staff remain current with procedures, updates to protocols, department policies and ever changing technologies. CDE is accomplished through a combination of methods including on-duty training via our web portal, instructor lead in-service sessions and partnering with our various public safety partners.


Continuous Quality Improvement


We have established a comprehensive Quality Assurance program which includes the review of a random sampling of telephone calls (9-1-1 calls, emergency calls, and non-emergency calls).

The program is designed to assure that our customers receive the highest level of customer service, and that departmental policies, procedures and protocols are followed.

The Quality Assurance program works in conjunction with our training team to develop continuing dispatch education designed to strengthen and improve the skills and knowledge of our personnel.


Immediate Instructions Provided to the caller


Our department believes that safe and effective emergency services start with a consistent and professional emergency dispatch program. When you have an emergency, you call 9-1-1, but you should not have to wait minutes before you or a loved one is given medical attention.

The use of a nationally recognized, medically-managed and locally supported protocol ensures that each 9-1-1 caller receives emergency medical care that is consistent with current standards of care. Communicators gather information about the problem and are able to provide instructions which have been proven to save lives. We call this a “zero-minute response time”.

For example, a person finding a suspicious package is given specific instructions for their safety and anyone else in the immediate area. Should the caller report they are trapped in a burning building, Communicators also provide potentially life-saving instructions (such as ‘don’t use the elevators’) which can turn a bad situation into something even worse.


How it Works


The Medical & Fire Priority Dispatch Systems use a protocol (series of scripted questions designed to gather specific information) to determine a priority response level as follows:

Any of the above response modes may be upgraded or downgraded as new information is received. This ensures that the Communicator processing your call is able to change the priority of the call if he or she believes, in their experience, that the situation described is much worse (or much better) than what was suggested by the system.


Program Oversight and Medical Direction


Public Safety Communications has established “Dispatch Review and Steering Workgroups”. These work groups include representatives of the law enforcement, fire and EMS communities to provide input and direction into policies, procedures, and protocols used by their agency. We work collaboratively with the Dane County EMS Association, Dane County Fire Chief’s Association and the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association to maintain open lines of communication in an effort to make sure we are providing the best possible service to the community.

Dr. Paul Stiegler, MD, FACEP, serves as our MPDS Medical Director. In this role Dr. Stiegler provides direction in medical issues related to dispatch, he also provides training for our staff and actively participates in our Quality Assurance program.