Okla. Bill Seeks Protection for 9-1-1 Dispatchers Against Lawsuits

March 2, 2006

Legislation protecting emergency medical dispatchers from lawsuits has passed the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

The House of Representatives reported that House Bill 2879, by State Representatives Doug Cox and Larry Glenn, gives “emergency medical dispatch” protection against lawsuits by creating a safe measure in law stating that if an emergency medical dispatch has had the proper training, they are presumed not to have acted negligently regarding injuries or damages resulting from the use of proper health protocols.

“Currently, EMS dispatchers are not allowed to give even the basic first aid techniques to callers because employers are afraid of lawsuits,” said Cox, R-Grove. “This encourages dispatchers to attend an emergency medical dispatch training program so they will be able to give instructions to callers to assist them with their medical emergency and not be weary of legality.”

Classes and training are designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Once training is completed, the dispatchers will be tested and if they pass will be certified to issue verbal advice for emergency situations.

Cox said this should encourage dispatch employers to pay for their dispatchers to attend this training because it will benefit both them and all Oklahomans.

“This bill will save lives. Fatalities that may have been prevented occur all the time because dispatchers can’t get involved and can only wait until an ambulance arrives,” said Cox. “House Bill 2879 allows dispatchers to give instructions on CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and many other first aid techniques that will save many Oklahomans their lives.”

HB 2879 now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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