What happens when a citizen rings an emergency telephone number? Who takes the call? What information is needed to intervene efficaciously? How are the resources to deal with the emergency alerted? How are these resources distributed? Who organizes the work? What role is performed by technology in handling the emergency? Again: What types of problems do emergency organizations encounter? Can their performance be improved? How can the new technologies enhance the efficacy of their action?
The aim of the project is to answer these questions. The research project examines the organization of work in a structure, which manages, at the provincial level, the 118 hotline number for medical emergencies in Italy. Rather than investigating the norms, protocols or standards that organize emergency services on paper, the project intends to examine the actual practices, routines and operations that unfold in a real work context.
It also intends to contribute to understanding of the social construction of information technology by examining the ways in which information resources are concretely used. The research is based on study of social interaction and communication processes in an emergency operations centre. It uses naturalistic methods of inquiry based on three element s: a broad ethnography of the context; the recording of telephone and radio communications in an emergency operations centre; extensive video recording of routine work at the centre.
The purpose is to collect data and information that can be used to identify and describe the good practices that inform the work of the emergency operators and to offer suggestions for improvement of the service.
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