LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Fire Department is launching an overhaul of how they handle 911 calls, officials said Monday.
Officials say the Department’s current call-handling procedures contributed to delays in dispatching rescue crews to medical emergencies that are often life-threatening.
The new system – which is expected to debut in early 2015 – will replace what experts say are lengthy and confusing pre-written questions used by dispatchers to determine the nature of a reported emergency, according to LAFD Medical Director Dr. Mark Eckstein.
Eckstein told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the revamped program is being created by department staff and will have fewer questions and allow more flexibility while dispatchers gather details from 911 callers.
“The problem is our dispatchers, which are all firefighters and paramedics who know the local EMS system extremely well, are not afforded any flexibility and have to ask a series of scripted questions before they dispatch resources,” Eckstein said.
Among several issues experts have raised over the current system setup includes a requirement for dispatchers to classify medical emergencies into one of hundreds of different categories, including over 30 different types of strokes, according to Eckstein.
In 2012, a Los Angeles Times investigation found dispatchers at the LAFD call center were below national standards that call for rescue units be alerted within one minute on 9 percent of 911 calls.
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