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Lindsay Martus, a Yale EMS Telecommunicator of the Year, is right here in East Haven, dispatching emergency help in the town in which she grew up. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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When you call for emergency services in town, Lindsay Martus is among the voices you might hear on the other end of the line. Though she’s only been back to work in her hometown for the last year, Lindsay has already been recognized for her good work.
This year, she received the Yale Emergency Medical Services Telecommunicator of the Year from the Yale New Haven Sponsor Hospital Program alongside other first responders from the region.
“I was recognized by one of the physicians at the hospital who monitors the radio,” Lindsay says. “He liked what he heard…They had to actually pull tapes to find out [who I was], which was pretty cool. I was pretty blown away.”
As a public safety telecommunicator, better known as a 911 dispatcher, Lindsay is the first point of contact for members of the public in need of assistance. But she says it can be hard for the average person to understand what goes on in her job.
“It’s very dynamic. There are so many different things that go on within dispatch that people don’t know because we’re behind the scenes,” she says. “We’re just the voice, we’re not face to face.”
One of the things Lindsay says callers sometimes don’t realize is that she’s already sent help on the way even while she’s still gathering information from them.
“I need to ask you these questions in order to make sure the first responders are bringing the right equipment and know what they’re walking into before they arrive on scene,” she says. “I try to reassure them that help is on the way.”
As a dispatcher, Lindsay is responsible for transferring information from callers to first responders. She’s also there to help callers provide pre-arrival instructions.
In Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), there are 33 different situational protocols to walk callers through in order to provide assistance to patients before help arrives.
“You learn every single day in this job,” she says. “You have your bad calls, you have your good calls. My focus is making sure that the patient has everything that they need.”
When giving Lindsay her award, Yale mentioned a call where she gave pediatric CPR instructions.
“You have to remain calm. You might have to ask the caller their name, develop some sort of personal relationship with them,” she says. “It’s their emergency. Rightfully so, they’re upset. They’re going through a phase of shock.”
Training taught Lindsay “repetitive persistence,” asking callers the same questions to ensure an accurate answer.
“You want to make sure that [the first responders] have the location, they have the complaint, and they have as much information as possible,” Lindsay says.
Whether she’s dispatching fire, police, or medical response, those are the principles that guide her questions.
“Each day we perform a different function,” she says.
In East Haven, dispatchers rotate between dispatching fire and police services as well as taking general calls of a more routine nature.
Lindsay is always learning on the job. When she came to work in town, she had to be trained for law enforcement dispatch. Previously, she had EMS training and emergency fire training.
Lindsay started with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in 1998 with American Medical Response (AMR) in New Haven. She celebrated her first year as a dispatcher in East Haven back in January.
“I always had an interest in EMS and 911,” she says. “I had the opportunity to start at the ambulance company as a…call taker. I learned a ton of stuff there.”
She remains a part-time supervisor at AMR, but spends most of her days now in the windowless dispatch center of the East Haven Police Department.
Lindsay says she was born and raised in East Haven, though she now resides in Wallingford. Working in her field, Lindsay says its good to be back in familiar territory.
“I know the community, I know the areas,” she says. “I’ve worked in other areas where it wasn’t familiar. It’s a challenge.”
When dispatching for East Haven’s emergency services, Lindsay is able to use her familiarity with the town to help direct services to people who don’t know exactly where they are. In other places, she had to rely on maps and first responders for context.
“When you don’t have that familiarity, it’s hard,” she says. “The first responders know their area, their patients. They know different resources they need.”
“You never know when you’re going to have to be on the other end of that phone call,” she says. “You want to make sure you’re giving the right instructions, getting the right help. That’s the most important thing.”
To nominate a Person of the Week, email Nathan Hughart at n.hughart@Zip06.com.
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