Comment of the Week: Changing 9-1-1 Protocol Standards for Childbirth?

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This comment was written by Ben in response to the post, The Shoelace Protocol.

emjaybee asked “I wonder who wrote up the first ones, and how often they get reviewed/updated and by whom?” I happen to know the answer to this question. I used to work for the organization that creates these standards. I’m not a doctor—I’m actually a writer—but I worked closely with the doc who originally wrote the protocols. His name is Dr. Jeff Clawson, and he originally wrote the protocols back in 1978. Since then the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch has been formed to review and update the protocols regularly. They have a council that meets every year or so to consider changes.

Note that the Academy isn’t a government organization. Like the American Heart Association, it’s a nonprofit organization that has become the national standard mainly through its widespread use and acceptance by doctors and dispatch centers. This protocol isn’t used everywhere in the US. It’s adopted voluntarily, and it’s up to each city, county, or state to make their own decisions and policies.

I think it would be wonderful to have midwives involved in the evolution of the 9-1-1 protocol standards. My wife became a doula a little over a year ago (she sent me the link to this post), and I wish I could have used her knowledge while I was still working for the Academy and Dr. Clawson. I would encourage you to visit their website and get in touch with them to see if there is anything you can do to help. In particular, Sarah, the 9-1-1 dispatcher who shared the protocol information in this post, is likely a member of the Academy and therefore has the ability to speak with her superiors and send in a formal Proposal for Change with supporting evidence to be reviewed at their next council meeting. The Academy’s website is located at