LAFD Launches Overhaul of Procedures for Handling 911 Calls

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The Los Angeles Fire Department is launching a sweeping overhaul of cumbersome 911 call handling procedures that officials say contribute to delays in getting rescuers to victims in life-threatening medical emergencies.


File photo of a Los Angeles Fire Department engine (Credit: KTLA)

By early next year, the agency expects its dispatchers to be using new, streamlined scripted questions that will help get LAFD ambulances en route seconds — even minutes — faster during cases of cardiac arrest and other time-critical emergencies.

The changes follow a barrage of criticism of the department’s 911 response system, including what experts say are sometimes lengthy and confusing pre-written questions that panicked callers must answer before dispatchers can get help on the way.

“We have to focus on what really matters and get resources rolling with minimal delay,” said Fire Department Medical Director Marc Eckstein, an emergency room physician who is overseeing the reform effort.

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