Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Ask Doc

By Jeff Clawson, M.D.

Dr. Clawson:

We know that De Luca’s Law states: EMDs will follow all protocols per se, avoiding freelance questioning or information unless it enhances, not replaces, the written protocol questions and scripts.

Who is De Luca?

Jayne Robinson

Senior Learning & Development Officer

Organisational Effectiveness & Education

Elmbank Training Centre

West Yorkshire, U.K.

Dear Jayne:

Actually, this question gets asked every now and then, so I thought I would scan and attach the original document that this now well-known law actually came from. It originated when the Los Angeles City (Calif.) Fire Department was implementing the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) after several very damaging medico-legal problems culminating in the Ziporah Lam case (the 60 Minutes segment used in the EMD course video). It had been our universal experience that during implementation, support for the program, and subsequent compliance to it, must visibly emanate from the highest level of authority within that agency, and that is generally the Chief Officer or Executive. Unofficially, we affectionately call these documents “Death Penalty Memos.”

The moment of online implementation in LA was drawing close at Operations Control Division (dispatch). Our small group at PDC was consulting with the city and I personally asked the Chief Engineer and General Manager, Don Manning, to issue a strong memorandum regarding adherence to the protocol. He declined, saying that it should come from the Deputy Chief of Operations. When I strongly disagreed, he explained that while he was the chief of the entire department, his role was more political and that the EMDs would probably never see him during their entire lifetime, while the Deputy of Ops was the main man for all employees in the trenches. While I was thinking that over, Chief Manning mentioned that the nickname for the Deputy Chief of Operations was affectionately known there as “The Enforcer.” That was enough to convince me. That LAFD “enforcer” was Timothy R. De Luca. I had great respect for the man and was saddened to learn that he died of a brain tumor only a few years later.

The official policy memorandum that was issued on Nov. 10, 1988, four days before the “go live,” became a classic and set the tone for the remainder of the implementation. What he said about protocol compliance has since been proven to be the foundation of a successful EMD system. His name lives on with this law.

Hope this helps you better understand “the rest of the story.”

Best regards … Doc