Medical emergencies at the forefront as City of Cape Town and Western Cape Government work together
The City of Cape Town, specifically the Public Emergency Call Centre (PECC), in conjunction with Western Cape Government Health: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has made a significant improvement to the manner in which emergency medical incidents are shared amongst the two entities. For many years the City’s PECC has received telephone calls from citizens in need of emergency medical services. The City does not deliver ambulance type services as this is a provincial function and thus the incident details still had to be transferred to the Western Government EMS Call Centres, via 10177. The PECC currently answers over 500 000 calls per annum, of which 49 percent are medically related. Often these calls have to be redirected but telling the caller to dial 10177 themselves, especially whilst they are in a stressful and possibly life threatening situation, is not the most efficient solution.
The PECC and the City have adopted a strategy whereby the PECC operator registers the incident details from the caller in a calm and professional manner and then traditionally, the operator would then either 1) hand the details over to the EMS Call Centre or 2) conference the call to the EMS Call Centre depending on the specific situation.
Both the City of Cape Town and the WCG: EMS have advanced computer aided dispatch (CAD) technology solutions but they are different systems and required a dedicated project to integrate the two systems from both a technical perspective but also from a process and data structure perspective.
The City and Province have made a decision to embark on the integration project in order to leverage the technology in order to improve the registration and sharing of emergency medical incidents in the city. The purpose of the project was to ensure that when a service request was logged on the City’s Emergency Policing Incident Command (EPIC) system, that the details could be shared instantly and accurately at the touch of a button.
This cuts out the requirement to ‘recapture’ the details and allows for the service request to be immediately viewed and entered into the priority queuing process within the EMS system.
Additionally, the systems continue to communicate so that the status of the EMS response can be seen by the City PECC 107 operator. This saves an additional call to 10177 in order to enquire about the status of the ambulance.
The benefit of this integration is as follows:
• PECC 107 operators are released from the medical calls more quickly in order to attend to additional incoming calls
• EMS 10177 call-takers no longer need to answer the 107-initiated calls, recapture the details and create the request on their system
• Time efficiencies are created when they are needed the most
• Human recapturing errors are minimised
• Status enquiry calls to 10177 are minimised thereby further minimising the time 107 operators spend on the phone with 10177.
Overall, this project offers a significant improvement to the communication between the two emergency call centres and not only makes each individual citizen’s emergency call for help faster and more efficient but creates more overall capacity to respond to emergencies through efficiencies for both organisations.
This project was completed late last year and went live on 9 November 2021. To date over 25 000 number of incidents have been transferred electronically from the City of Cape Town to the Western Cape Government EMS Call Centre.
Many people worked on this project. This photo was taken during the early hours of 9 November 2021 when this core group were present in the PECC to monitor the calls going live.
Article was written by Andrew Mortimer (Manager: EPIC) and Suretha Visser (Manager: PECC) (Dr Shaheem de Vries, Department of Health, agreed to the content). As far as we know this is the first integration between EPIC of the City of Cape Town and Caremonix (Department of Health, Western Cape) in the world.