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Report: Human, Computer Errors Plague Data On LAFD Response Times

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles Fire Department is facing renewed scrutiny over its emergency response times after a report found errors in the computer software used to compile the data.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports fire commissioners were being told on Monday that there may be no way to confirm whether emergency vehicles are reaching their destinations in a timely manner.

A new report compiled by statistical expert Jeff Godown found both computer and human errors contributed to slower response times and cannot be trusted to gauge department performance.

The findings have renewed controversy after department officials admitted in March that they had previously released performance data that did not accurately reflect emergency response times — which forced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to publicly deny that budget cuts had resulted in a decrease in public safety.

“I stand with the men and women of this department who, frankly, are the standard for the country,” Villaraigosa said at the time.

Fire officials had reported the department was responding to emergencies within 5 minutes about 64 percent of the time, but those numbers are now said to be flawed.

The Fire Department now will regenerate all the data previously presented to the public and city officials, according to Godown.

Godown’s six-page report said the suspect Deccan software should not be used until its kinks are ironed out and recommended that the unit that analyzes statistics for Fire Chief Brian Cummings be beefed up with more training and the addition of two civilians.

The two firefighters in the unit are in a position “for which they were not originally trained,” then they received on-the-job training “with
little or no followup,” he wrote.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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