Mobile Application Enhances Training for Emergency Dispatchers

A mobile training application developed by a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researcher aims to reduce mortality rates during emergency situations by helping dispatchers provide improved, more in-depth information to paramedics.

Of the 75 counties in Arkansas, only five have emergency medical dispatchers. The classification requires that dispatchers undergo six months of on-the-job training and course work, including a rigorous, two-day session to learn emergency codes.

The remaining majority of counties in Arkansas are generally staffed by dispatchers who also serve as secretaries in the county sheriff’s office or work at the county jail, and who may not have formal training or knowledge in medical terminology.

“When they route an ambulance to an emergency situation, they may just include an address and not give any kind of medical information,” said Aliza Brown, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology in the UAMS College of Medicine, who developed the application. “This is concerning because we know certain emergency situations – including stroke, trauma and heart attacks – are time sensitive and require immediate care.”

To combat the issue, Brown developed We Train 911, a mobile application that allows dispatchers to learn basic medical terminology and improve their communication, call-taking, and note-taking skills. It’s available for free in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store.

Participants are able to register and complete units one at a time, take a quiz, and proceed to the next unit. Once completed, a certificate is sent to the dispatcher and his or her supervisor.

“Many dispatchers are busy and don’t have time for a class, so we hope this app helps them do the coursework as they have time,” said Brown. “Ultimately, we hope this training helps them glean more information during emergency calls and transfer it quickly and efficiently to responding paramedics.”


Brown said she hopes the application will help lower mortality rates in cardiovascular disease, strokes, and trauma. To monitor its success, Brown will analyze results from several counties in Arkansas over a six-month period.


Brown received more than $90,000 from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) supplement grant to the UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience, a division of the College of Medicine’s Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences.


“Dr. Brown is addressing one of the major issues in our state,” said Edgar Garcia-Rill, PhD, director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience. “Hers is a novel approach that takes advantage of a fairly inexpensive route to reach those in a position to make a difference in the lives of others.”


The UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience is funded through a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) award from the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, which is part of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The program provides funding at institutions across 23 states and Puerto Rico. It aims to enhance competitiveness of scientists and investigators at institutions located in states where the average success rate for applications to NIH has been historically low.


Brown said she hopes to be able to take successful results from her application and share them with institutions across the IDeA program.


“Many states in the IDeA program have rural areas where this could be just as useful,” said Brown. “This could be beneficial across the nation.”