Preparing for the curve ball scenario.

We send a helicopter to the Vineyard but the weather closes in. What’s Plan B?
The roof elevator at a receiving hospital isn’t working. How fast can we redirect the mission to another appropriate hospital?
A sending clinician tells us a patient is at the Lawrence emergency department.  There are three different emergency departments in New England with “Lawrence” in their names. Which one is it?

Communications specialists at Boston MedFlight are in a constant state of asking ourselves, “Is this information right? Do I need clarification or confirmation? Is there new information that requires us to reconsider the vehicle, the landing zone, the receiving hospital?”

We’re the critical care transport orchestra leaders. If it’s a “hospital-to-hospital mission,” we coordinate the sending and receiving hospitals with the Boston MedFlight crew. They’re counting on us to get every piece of information right. 

If it’s a “scene” call—a highway crash or some other type of accident—we coordinate with the first responders and EMS, identify the landing zone where the helicopter will pick up the patient, determine the receiving hospital and keep all parties informed of the patient status and our vehicle’s estimated time of arrival. Things happen fast, multiple pieces of information are streaming in, often incomplete or inaccurate, and it’s our job to double-check it and make sure everyone is on the same page.

“We’re the calm in the chaos. Even when the emergency department is really busy and the patient is really sick—everyone is reacting and emotional—we can hear it. We recognize it and help them but we don’t let the emotional stuff affect us.”

Ken Panciocco, Director of Communications

Working in shifts of three, we listen closely to what each other is saying and call out questions or information in response to what we hear. We are literally a second set of ears for each other. Our crews, first responders, sending and receiving hospital teams and all those linked into Boston’s critical care service delivery continuum can’t do their jobs to the best of their ability unless we do our job to the best of ours.

That said, after every mission we follow up with all involved parties. We ask, “Was the estimated time of arrival accurate?” “How about the information and decisions we made?” “Is there anything we could have done better?” Continuous improvement and focus on reliability is the only way to make sure we continue to deliver the highest quality, critical care transport service.

Our communications center is staffed by three communications specialists at all times: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each professional must have extensive experience in EMS communications and be a nationally registered EMT. All of our specialists have at least 10 years of experience.