In 2019, the San Bernardino County Council of Governments (SBCOG) and CONFIRE JPA, a joint powers authority that oversees emergency medical and fire dispatch, implemented a pilot program whereby dispatchers work alongside trained Registered Nurses with the goal of diverting non-emergency 9-1-1 calls to services such as local urgent care, while preserving fire, ambulance, and police assistance for emergencies, and decreasing emergency room overcrowding. Known as the Emergency Communications Nurse System (ECNS), the program mirrors similar programs successfully operating across the country and internationally. Completed in October 2021, this outreach program provided a toolkit for stakeholder agencies within the County, to provide ready-to-use materials for public distribution. The custom toolkit empowered agencies to immediately inform the public about the benefits of ECNS and the ability to continue to receive appropriate medical care.
CPOG researched similar programs nationwide, to analyze outreach efforts, including social media posts. Programs and municipalities researched included International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department, and Reno Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority. Reno has been using ECNS for a decade, and their nurses are also certified in California, uniquely qualifying these medical professionals to not only handle non-urgent 911 calls in the CONFIRE jurisdiction, but also provide valuable insight into the ECNS program. This collaboration with the City of Reno proved especially important to CONFIRE as their dispatch centers cover, geographically, 80% of San Bernardino County. Research also found that 9-1-1 calls often include scenarios where a patient is in need of transportation for a lower-level medical issue, or in need of help at home, diverting important first responders and resources unnecessarily; all of this information informed our planning and affected tasks like website copy and social media posts. We also reviewed and selected stock photos that conveyed the relevant messages of the ECNS system, ensuring the photos were representative of the County’s population.
An internal kickoff meeting was held to brainstorm and finalize our strategy and to obtain their feedback on best practices for delivering the toolkit.
The toolkit included:
1. Branding: project logo, tagline, messaging
2. Collateral: fact sheet, FAQ, PPT, utility bill insert
3. Social Media: calendar, supporting graphics
4. Advertising: newspaper ad, local newspaper contact sheet, 30-second radio spot, 60-second radio spot, local radio contact sheet, billboard, bus ad, video, Biteable
5. Media Kit: speaking points, press release
6. Website: copy, graphics
7. Introduction Letter: roll-out, toolkit review, kickoff meeting, toolkit to jurisdictions
The Redlands Community News published an article with information conveyed in the press release, and the Biteable our team created had a reach of 700 stakeholders.