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, reports the Los Angeles Times. By early next year, the agency expects its dispatchers to be using new, streamlined scripted questions that will help speed LAFD ambulances during heart attacks and other time-critical emergencies.
The changes follow criticism of the department’s 911 response system, including complex questions asked of callers who are often panicked. The new program being created by department staff will have fewer questions and allow more flexibility to get rescue units moving as details are being gathered from 911 callers. An L.A. Times investigation in 2012 found that the LAFD call center fell far short of a national standard that rescue units be alerted within one minute on 90% of 911 calls.