Creator of LAFD 911 assessment program threatens to cut off service

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The creator of computerized scripts that Los Angeles firefighters use to assess medical emergencies during 911 calls is reportedly threatening to cut off the service.

The warning came Tuesday in response to a decision by city leaders to direct the Los Angeles Fire Department to begin developing its own series of questions to judge how best to respond to victims, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last month the LAFD announced that it would create a structured program of questions tailored to the department's specific needs. The agency's medical director, Dr. Marc Eckstein, has said the current system was too cumbersome and contributes to delays in getting rescuers to emergency scenes.

Officials planned to use the current program until a new version is developed by LAFD personnel. But on Tuesday, Jeff Clawson, a doctor and head of a nonprofit group that developed the scripts, as well as the company that markets them, delivered a letter to the department that says he may terminate the department's access to the system in 60 days, according to The Times.

He said his scripts, known as the Clawson protocols, were being wrongly blamed for problems created by poor firefighter performance during 911 calls.

Clawson said he had a legal right to remove his program if call takers failed to meet national standards. He'll exercise that option if the department doesn't produce data showing firefighters are performing properly, he told The Times.

Clawson said his action was not financially motivated, adding that the loss of $35,000 in annual fees from the city would be insignificant for his company.

Eckstein defended the decision to drop Clawson's system, saying that "it's not the right fit for our department."

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