Understanding Emergency Medical Dispatch

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Preprint: final version available as: FURNISS, D. & BLANDFORD, A. (2006), Understanding Emergency Medical Dispatch in terms of Distributed Cognition: a case study. Ergonomics Journal. 49. 12/13. 1174-1203. Understanding Emergency Medical Dispatch in terms of Distributed Cognition: a case study Dominic Furniss and Ann Blandford* UCL Interaction Centre, University College London, Remax House, 31-32 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7DP, UK dominicfurniss@btopenworld.com, A.Blandford@ucl.ac.uk Abstract Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) is typically a team activity, requiring fluid coordination and communication between team members. Such working situations have often been described in terms of Distributed Cognition (DC), a framework for understanding team working. DC takes account of factors such as shared representations and artefacts to support reasoning about team working. Although the language of Distributed Cognition has been developed over several years, little attention has been paid to developing a methodology or reusable representation that supports reasoning about an interactive system from a Distributed Cognition perspective. In this paper, we present a case study in which we developed a method for constructing a DC account of team working in the domain of EMD, focusing on the use of the method for describing an existing EMD work system, identifying sources of weakness in that system, and reasoning about the likely consequences of re-designs of the system. The resulting DC descriptions have yielded new insights into the design of EMD work and of tools to support that work within a large EMD centre. Keywords: Emergency Medical Dispatch; Distributed Cognition; team working; Ambulance Control; HCI. Introduction Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) is a team activity. The size and structures of those teams vary, as do the ways roles are
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