Communications officers from Dawson and Lumpkin counties took a training course last week that "should be mandated statewide," according to the instructor.
"This is an invaluable life-saving tool," said John Ashcraft, a 30-year veteran in 911 communications and training.
Known as emergency medical dispatch training, the three-day seminar was designed to give dispatchers a full working knowledge to guide callers with the instruction they need to perform techniques such as CPR on patients until emergency workers can arrive on scene.
Though not state mandated, the training is required by the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.
Debra Wimpy, director of the county's 911 communication center, called the knowledge and training the officers experienced "priceless."
"To know you will have extra tools to help your callers is such a reward," she said. "By administering emergency medical dispatch ensures every possible measure is taken to save a life."
Danny Speaks, assistant chief with Dawson County Emergency Services, agrees, saying the time when dispatchers know how to guide callers in emergency situations can be the difference between life and death of a patient.
"Our response time is typically between five and 10 minutes, but their response is immediate," he said.
The training, he said, means there is no lapse in care for patients, because each patient is cared for from the time they reach the dispatch center until the time medics arrive and release them to the hospital.
The course consisted of class discussions and role playing enactments, followed by a test of practical training.
"This should be a comfort to our citizens and visitors that we provide an excellent standard of care to ensure their safety," Wimpy said.