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Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Protocol 36

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In this episode, JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman interviews Dr. Jeff Clawson, Jerry Overton, Greg Scott, Brian Dale and Christopher Olola, PhD, from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and the IAED Research, Standards, and Academics Division. They discuss emergency medical dispatch centers playing a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Protocol 36,” and what the future might hold for EMS Systems, dispatch and deployment of resources.

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Jeff J. Clawson, M.D. is the chairman of the Rules Group of the Medical Council of Standards of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and medical director of the IAED Research, Standards, and Academics division. He is also the CEO/lead scientist at Priority Dispatch Corp. 

As the inventor of the Medical Priority Dispatch System, widely recognized as the national standard of medical dispatch care and practice, Dr. Clawson is often referred to as the “Father of EMD.”

He served as the medical consultant for the hit television series “Rescue 911” starring William Shatner and wrote the definitive textbook on the subject – Principles of Emergency Medical Dispatch.

Dr. Clawson is an emergency physician and has held the position of fire surgeon/medical director of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, fire surgeon/medical advisor for Salt Lake County Fire Department and medical director for the Gold Cross Ambulance Service. 

Dr. Clawson is a past faculty member of the Medical Director’s Course of the National Association of EMS Physicians. 

Dr. Clawson was Chairman of the ASTM Task Force for the Development of the National Standard for Medical Dispatch Practice. He co-founded the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch in 1988 that now has 56,000 certified members in 43 countries.

Jerry Overton serves as the president of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, the organization charged with setting standards, establishing curriculum, and conducting research for public safety dispatch worldwide. In addition, he is a member of its Board of Trustees and chairs of its Institutional Review Board. 

Previously, he served as the chief executive officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), in Richmond, Virginia, for 18 years, and had overall responsibility for the internationally acclaimed performance-based EMS system.

He has also served as the chief executive of the Kansas City, Missouri, EMS system.

He provides technical assistance throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa – including the design of an implementation plan for an emergency medical transport program in Central Bosnia – Herzegovina during the war.

Most recently, he is involved in upgrading the EMS system for the country of Lebanon. 

He is the past president of the American Ambulance Association, was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the U.S. Health System and was the chief financial officer for the World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine.

He serves on the editorial board of JEMS and was named one of the 20 most influential leaders in EMS by the publication.

In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of EMTs and the National Registry of EMTs. 

Greg Scott is the associate director for Protocol Evolution and a researcher with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

His career in emergency services has included roles as an EMS and fire responder, emergency medical dispatcher (EMD), dispatch supervisor and training officer, and 911 consultant.

During his time as a consultant for Priority Dispatch Corporation, he has led numerous implementations of EMD programs in 911 centers across North America.

He is also a medical dispatch quality improvement Instructor, and member of the IAED Medical Council of Standards, and chairs their Chemical Biological Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) Committee. Greg holds a master’s degree in management and has authored and co-authored various published research in EMS.

Brian Dale retired as fire chief for the Salt Lake City Fire Deptartment after 30 years in the fire service and took on the role of associate director of Medical and Quality Control Processes for the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

In this new role, he ensures all dispatch protocols endorsed by the IAED meet or exceed the standard practice for all Public Safety Disciplines. In addition, he oversees the quality management practices the IAED created and oversees.

He is the past chair of the Board of Accreditation and ED-Q Council of Standards for the IAED.

Christopher Olola, PhD, is the director of Biomedical Informatics & Research with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). Public health informatician, with solid background in biostatistics. He has over 28 years of academic and clinical research experience in the application and evaluation of informatics in healthcare and research (in the prehospital care/dispatch and in-hospital environments)—and in public and private sectors.

His current research focuses on the development, evaluation & optimization of prehospital emergency dispatch standards and protocols–in public health and public safety.

He possesses a PhD in biomedical informatics), a MSc in information systems), a PG Dip in computer science and a BSc in statistics & computer science.