UAMS Researcher’s Mobile Application Enhances Training for Emergency Dispatchers

By Ashley McNatt

Of the 75 counties in Arkansas, only five have emergency medical dispatchers. The classification requires dispatchers undergo six months of on-the-job training and course work, including a rigorous, two-day session to learn emergency codes.

The remaining majority of counties in Arkansas are generally staffed by dispatchers who also serve as secretaries in the county sheriff’s office or work at the county jail and may not have formal training or knowledge in medical terminology.

“When they route an ambulance to an emergency situation, they may just include an address and not give any kind of medical information,” said Aliza Brown, Ph.D., an assistant professor of radiology in the UAMS College of Medicine who developed the application. “This is concerning because we know certain emergency situations – including stroke, trauma and heart attacks – are time sensitive and require immediate care.”

To combat the issue, Brown developed We Train 911, a mobile application that allows dispatchers to learn basic medical terminology and improve their communication, call-taking and note-taking skills. It’s available for free in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store.

We Train 911 App

We Train 911 Mobile App

Participants are able to register and complete units one at a time, take a quiz and proceed to the next unit. Once completed, a certificate is sent to the dispatcher and his or her supervisor.

“Many dispatchers are busy and don’t have time for a class, so we hope this app helps them do the coursework as they have time,” said Brown. “Ultimately, we hope this training helps them glean more information during emergency calls and transfer it quickly and efficiently to responding paramedics.”

Brown said she hopes the application will help lower mortality rates in cardiovascular disease, strokes and trauma. To monitor its success, Brown will analyze results from several counties in Arkansas over a six-month period.

Brown received more than $90,000 from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) supplement grant to the UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience, a division of the College of Medicine’s Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences.

“Dr. Brown is addressing one of the major issues in our state,” said Edgar Garcia-Rill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience. “Hers is a novel approach that takes advantage of a fairly inexpensive route to reach those in a position to make a difference in the lives of others.”

The UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience is funded through a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) award from the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, which is part of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The program provides funding at institutions across 23 states and Puerto Rico. It aims to enhance competitiveness of scientists and investigators at institutions located in states where the average success rate for applications to NIH has been historically low.

Brown said she hopes to be able to take successful results from her application and share them with institutions across the IDeA program.

“Many states in the IDeA program have rural areas where this could be just as useful,” said Brown. “This could be beneficial across the nation.”

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.