Emergency Communications Center

Linking OHSU, the medical community, and the people of the Pacific Northwest

Emergency Communications dispatcher talking on phone

The Emergency Communication Center (ECC) at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, has many roles within OHSU, OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital , Emergency Medical Services, and the Northwest region. Our work environment is dynamic with multiple roles.  We provide:

  • Patient Transfers
  • Physician Consults
  • Ambulance Medical and Trauma Communication
  • Pediatric and Neonatal Team Dispatch (PANDA)
  • Rapid Response Team Dispatch
  • Paging
  • Medical Documentation

For health care professionals

For health care professionals

Oregon - A national leader in trauma strategy

first responders treat patient before transport

Twenty-five years ago, Oregon became the second state in the nation to establish a trauma system designed to triage, treat, and track seriously injured patients.  The Trauma Communication Center in Portland plays a pivotal role relaying information between first responders and receiving hospitals.

Coordinated care saves lives

The Trauma Communication Center monitors the status of the two Portland Level 1 trauma centers, OHSU and Legacy Emanuel.  We direct ambulances to the right hospital based on

  • Scene location
  • Hospital status
  • Number of injured patients

If one facility is on divert we send the patient to the other trauma center.  For three or more victims, we distribute the patients to avoid hospital overload.

When the outcome is life or death - minutes count

Critical injuries demand an immediate response. The Trauma Communication Center:

  • Has a dedicated 800 MHz trauma channel and recorded telephone lines.
  • Provides one contact point for paramedics and trauma teams.
  • Gets needed information with the least amount of questions.
  • Gives crucial updates to the receiving hospital.
  • Pages the OHSU trauma teams.
  • Activates the OHSU helipad when needed.

Statewide trauma registry

All radio or phone calls into the Trauma Communication Center are on recorded lines.  Documentation of every patient is done in our secure database.  Information is collected about:

  • Scene location
  • Time of incident
  • EMS response
  • Type of accident
  • Patient information
  • Types of injuries and EMS care

Researchers use our data to:

  • Study trauma system effectiveness
  • Analyze trial medications
  • Recommend quality control and improvement
  • Human geography for EMS studies

Our history at OHSU

emergency operator takes notes in dispatch center

In 1987 the Emergency Communication Center was selected to be the Trauma Communication Center for Region 1, the Portland metropolitan area and Southwest Washington.  Every year thousands of trauma system entries are made through the Trauma Communication Center to Oregon's Level 1 trauma centers.

For health care professionals

Immediate help for paramedics

medical resources specialists communicating by radio

Medical Resource Hospital (MRH) based in Portland, OR. is a service provided by the OHSU Emergency Department for paramedics in the field.  OHSU Emergency room physicians are available 24/7 by radio or phone for:

  • Medical advice
  • Approve medication orders
  • Direct resuscitation and end-of-life situations
  • Explaining to patients the consequences of refusing treatment
  • Clarifying protocols

Assistance is provided to EMS personnel in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, and Hood counties.

Skilled professional support team

Medical Resource Hospital operates through our Emergency Communication Center at OHSU to provide quick, coordinated connections for paramedics on scene to emergency department physicians.

  • 90% of all consults started within 45 seconds or less
  • Dedicated 800 MHz radio channel and telephone line
  • All calls recorded for review and quality control
  • All discussions documented in a secure database
  • Data collected for statistical analysis and protocol review

Nation's 1st 24-hour electronic POLST registry

emergency operator tracks activity in dispatch center

Medical Resource Hospital is the emergency connection for the POLST Registry (Physician Orders for Life-ustaining Treatment) in Oregon.  This service insures that EMS and hospital acute care medical personnel obtain quick and accurate information about a patient's end-of-life health care wishes.

Medical Resource Hospital has access to a 24 hour secure electronic record of POLST forms.  Upon request the POLST Registry is checked for a completed form and completes these steps:

  • Follow multiple-step procedures with each inquiry to insure an exact match.
  • Verbally relay medical orders and signature dates for exact matches.
  • Arrange consults with OHSU emergency room physicians if clarification is needed.
  • Fax copies of the form to the hospital (or EMS hospital destination if applicable).

More information about POLST

POLST registry contact information

Our history at OHSU

Centralized on-line medical control known as Medical Resource Hospital (MRH) was authorized in 1982 by Multnomah County administrative rule.  The OHSU Emergency Department assumed the duties of Medical Resource Hospital in 1986 and selected the Emergency Communication Center to provide the service.

For health care professionals

panda emergency medical technicians treat patient during transport

Coordination from start to finish

What is the Doernbecher Children's Hospital (DCH) PANDA Team?

The DCH PANDA (Pediatric And Neonatal Doernbecher Ambulance) Team transports critically ill children by ambulance, helicopter, or fixed wing aircraft from hospitals all across the Pacific Northwest to Doernbecher Children's Hospital located in Portland, OR.  PANDA is the largest and longest running pediatric and neonatal intensive care transport program in Oregon.

When you need PANDA, call PANDA dispatch

We operate 24/7 with a dedicated, recorded telephone line for all PANDA requests, arranging all aspects of the mission.  With one phone call Panda Dispatch:

  • Connects you to a DCH specialist
  • Activates the PANDA Team
  • Will oversee the transfer, admission, and bed placement process
  • Set up and direct transportation for your patient
  • Document all phases of the event in our secure database

More information about the PANDA Team 

Ambulance or air?

Panda goes the fastest and safest way to travel based on:

  • Hospital location
  • Weather conditions
  • Patient status
  • Aircraft availability

Once activated, our team can be on the road in 10 minutes.  Arrangements are made with ground and air transport agencies in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere to expedite transportation. 

Safety is our focus - we know where our team is at any time

  • 30 minute check-ins throughout the journey
  • GPS ground transport tracking system
  • Regular updates to medical staff on patient condition and team location

Unexpected situations - we have solutions

  • Traffic delays - we supply information and alternate routes.
  • Flight delays - we will have an ambulance or other aircraft at any airport.

Emergencies en route - we get immediate help

  • Accidents - we organize an EMS response.
  • Medical crisis - we notify attending physicians and provide any needed assistance.

Third party transports

The PANDA Team is authorized to transport patients between other Oregon hospitals and to out-of-state hospitals.  Contact PANDA Dispatch to discuss these options with the PANDA medical directors.

Our history at OHSU

panda dispatch operator typing at computer

In 1995 the Doernbecher Children's Hospital transport teams for the pediatric and neonatal units merged to form the DCH PANDA Team.  The Emergency Communication Center took over the role of DCH PANDA Dispatch in 1998.  PANDA achieved the CAMTS certification in 2009. 

For health care professionals

Regional Hospital is ready when the unexpected happens

When chaos hits, facilities could be overwhelmed and EMS systems need coordination. Regional Hospital provides order.  In the critical hours after a mass casualty incident, Regional Hospital, based in Portland, Oregon, provides crisis coordination for paramedics and local hospitals. Our roles in mass casualty incidents are:

  • Providing communication between EMS personnel and hospital medical teams.
  • Coordinate patient distribution.
  • Track  the bed status of emergency departments.
  • Prevent patient overload by directing ambulances to hospitals with appropriate resources.
  • Record MCI patient status and destination.
  • Alert hospitals with radio announcements on the nature and scope of a disaster.
  • Broadcast updates via radio and HOSCAP website with crucial information during the event.
  • Drilling for these incidents is ongoing.

Reliable technology

Disasters, power outages, telephone failure, software problems, and high-traffic congestion can cripple communication services.  Our integrated systems are designed to survive. Our communication resources include:

  • Dedicated 800 MHz MCI radio channels with VHF and HAM radio backup.
  • Redundant land-line, wireless, and satellite telecommunication systems.
  • Hospital-wide backup generators.
  • Robust computer security.

National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)

The NDMS is a national system managing federal response to declared disasters throughout our country.  When the number of crisis victims exceeds state resources, Regional Hospital is prepared to help the Federal Coordination Center disperse patients to Portland area hospitals.

dispatch team triages medical emergency

Our history at OHSU

In the 1960s the Northwest Oregon Council of Hospitals developed the concept of a Regional Hospital.  OHSU took over the role in 1996 and assigned responsibility to the Emergency Communication Center.  We have fulfilled the duties of Regional Hospital ever since.

Experience Matters

Managing disasters is not for beginners. Whether we are directing ambulances during a crisis, arranging transports for critically ill children, or connecting paramedics to physicians, we are ready for any situation.

Our communication systems are extensive, reliable, and secure.  We monitor, record, and save every consult, transfer, trauma entry, phone call, and radio report. Our data is used to analyze trends.

Radio networks cover the metropolitan area for reports. We have land-line and satellite telephones to provide coverage during natural and man-made disasters. 

Information Headquarters for the OHSU Emergency Department

Everything comes through the Emergency Communication Center. 

  • Telephone calls
  • Dispatch of Specialized Medical Teams
  • Trauma Communications
  • Physician - Paramedic Consults
  • Ambulance Reports
  • Inter-hospital Transfers
  • Page Requests

We get it all.  Our data is used to analyze trends. Questions dealt with ASAP. We understand the urgent needs of those we serve.