Proposal requiring 911 CPR instruction could be struggle for small counties

Published: Feb. 6, 2018 at 6:36 PM CST
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that would require 911 dispatchers in Wisconsin to receive training on how to walk callers through CPR administration could put a strain on short-staffed call centers.

Several counties across the state like Dane, Columbia and Rock already require their dispatchers to receive CPR training. Director of Dane County 911, John Dejung, says in 2017, dispatchers saved eleven lives by giving CPR information over the phone.

"We know, from our own experience, that it truly can be life saving," Dejung said. He spoke in favor of the proposal at a Senate public hearing on Tuesday.

Smaller counties say while they know the training would help save lives, administering it in their county would be costly.

Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek says their dispatch center is typically run by just one call taker.

"We do the best we can with limited amount of resources that we have and that limited resources would be dispatchers sitting in dispatch chairs," Sheriff Michek said.

He says the requirement could mean dispatchers have to put other calls on hold.

"To tie that person up on a CPR instruction type of phone call, that means all of the other radio traffic, all of the other phone traffic, has to be taken care of by someone else," Sheriff Michek said.

He says the mandate could force him to make room in the budget to hire another worker.

"No money for bringing on extra staff really puts us in a bind really because we are short staffed all of the time," Sheriff Michek said.

The proposal would also allow dispatch centers team up with other call centers or hospitals so calls requiring CPR instruction could be transferred to a place where a person might have more time to give instruction. Middleton law enforcement and Dane County Dispatch currently have this agreement for medical calls.

Sheriff Michek says the only hospital in his county might not be able to take on that call load and he might have to spend money on an agreement with a medical call partner.

The bill passed out of executive committee in the State Assembly. There is currently no schedule indicating it will head to the floor for a vote. The State Senate version passed out of a public hearing.