Law Enforcement Specialties >> Communications Center >> Woman Dies After 911 Error

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Woman Dies After 911 Error

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Blue_hills_max50

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Posted over 6 years ago

 

A sobering lesson for all of us who do this. A 39-year-old female suffering from a pulmonary embolism called 911 and gave her address on Wales Street, which is in Johns Creek, north of Atlanta. The Fulton County dispatcher heard "Wells Street", didn't verify it or the name of the apartment complex, and sent crews to an address on Wells Street 28 miles from the caller's location. Initial call time was about 1300, Johns Creek PD and Fulton County Fire finally arrived at the correct address at 1339. Caller was unconscious so they broke down her door and initated CPR, which continued for 25 minutes until an ambulance arrived. Hospital arrival was 1418, patient was pronounced dead at 1501.


The operator's been fired because the call center bosses say she should have noticed the cell tower was in north Atlanta, which is where the woman lived. Others say she's being made a scapegoat to avoid discussion of dispatchers' low pay, undermanned shifts, and inadequate training. Clearly this operator did an awful job of verifying this address but I don't think the cell tower argument holds up; my own experience is that cell tower locations are often a poor indicator of where a caller really is. The pay, staffing, and training issues are legitimate IMO but I'll leave each of you to your own conclusions about that.


Here are the article links. Clicking may require some kind of registration at the AJC site, if you don't wish to do that, go to www.ajc.com and search "911 death". The first article is on page 2 of the search results, the others are on page 1.


http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/northfulton/stories/2008/08/05/911_operator_mistake_death.html


http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2008/08/08/fulton.html


http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2008/08/06/emergency_0807.html


http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2008/08/08/fulton.html

Ben_1_resized_2_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 6 years ago

 

i have to disagree with the statement about the cell phone tower, just because it hits a particular tower doesnt necessarily mean thats the are a the call is coming from, we have had calls hit towers in our county that the problem is actually 20 miles away from tower

Blue_hills_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Link to the tape of the 911 call:


http://www.ajc.com/multimedia/content/multimedia/video/index.html?clip=92670

911clr_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Agreed that the cell tower excuse, is just that, an excuse.  I'm in the western Chicago burbs and have gotten errant cell phone calls from hundreds of miles away.  I'm assuming they are Phase I only, had they been Phase II they would have had a better leg to stand on as it would/should have plotted.


Having said that, you ALWAYS confirm the location.


Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives. But maybe time is also a companion who goes with us on our journey, and reminds us to cherish the moments of our lives because they will never come again.

N1202178746_305955_5462_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Actually if you heard the tape the dispatcher did repeat the address back to the caller and still sent the crew to the wrong address, eithr that or she told the crew wales street and the crew screwed it up.


Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal.

Shedevil2_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

loss of life is always tragic and in this profession it happens and not trying to make excuses at all , i just always spell  out the location to assure i'm going to the right place . in this case , that would have been a tremendous help.........  


...don't play with me , i'll keep you way up after your bedtime.....

Endofwatch_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Well....in the dispatcher's defense....she did try to spell it out to the victim...but unfort. the victim was so hypoxic and altered...and unable to pick up on the error of the dispatcher...just from the sounds of the conversation...that dispatch center is apparently understaffed/undertrained......once the mistake was realized...it turned into a goat rodeo......what an unfortunate mess......

Shedevil2_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

girlinbrown says ...



Well....in the dispatcher's defense....she did try to spell it out to the victim...but unfort. the victim was so hypoxic and altered...and unable to pick up on the error of the dispatcher...just from the sounds of the conversation...that dispatch center is apparently understaffed/undertrained......once the mistake was realized...it turned into a goat rodeo......what an unfortunate mess......


wasn't aware , hadn't listened to the actual recording ............either way it is a tragedy for all and boy do i know about understaffed.............



...don't play with me , i'll keep you way up after your bedtime.....

Blue_hills_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Fulton County has dedicated call-takers along with police and fire dispatchers. Local media was in our center videotaping yesterday and one of them said the woman who was fired was a fire dispatcher who was forced to take overflow 911 calls.


That may explain why there was no EMD protocol followed.

N1202178746_305955_5462_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 6 years ago

 

I heard the recording, my question is do they have a recording of the address that she told them to go to? Did she admit to sending them to the wrong address or did the EMS crew get the address screwed up. When the call came in the caller gave her address, the dispatcher repeated the correct address. EMS could have got it wrong. Any info on that?


Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal.

Blue_hills_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 6 years ago

 

KSP494 says ...



I heard the recording, my question is do they have a recording of the address that she told them to go to? Did she admit to sending them to the wrong address or did the EMS crew get the address screwed up. When the call came in the caller gave her address, the dispatcher repeated the correct address. EMS could have got it wrong. Any info on that?



Yes, she stated "602 Wales Drive" and the operator said she only had a Wells Street, was that right, and the caller was having so much trouble speaking that she tried to correct it but all she got out was "...Drive..." and then all you could hear was what sounded like agonal breathing. She didn't speak again after that. The caller also provided the apartment complex name. I'm told the Fulton operators do not have internet access so the operator would not have been able to Google the complex name. A Grady Hospital dispatcher was able to Google it and apparently that's how they figured out where she was.


Grady Memorial is Atlanta's major trauma center. It's a profound statement about the Fulton County 911 center that Grady established its own call center and EMS dispatch some years ago so as to take the delays caused by Fulton County's center out of the loop.

N1202178746_305955_5462_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

RadioX says ...



KSP494 says ...



I heard the recording, my question is do they have a recording of the address that she told them to go to? Did she admit to sending them to the wrong address or did the EMS crew get the address screwed up. When the call came in the caller gave her address, the dispatcher repeated the correct address. EMS could have got it wrong. Any info on that?



Yes, she stated "602 Wales Drive" and the operator said she only had a Wells Street, was that right, and the caller was having so much trouble speaking that she tried to correct it but all she got out was "...Drive..." and then all you could hear was what sounded like agonal breathing. She didn't speak again after that. The caller also provided the apartment complex name. I'm told the Fulton operators do not have internet access so the operator would not have been able to Google the complex name. A Grady Hospital dispatcher was able to Google it and apparently that's how they figured out where she was.


Grady Memorial is Atlanta's major trauma center. It's a profound statement about the Fulton County 911 center that Grady established its own call center and EMS dispatch some years ago so as to take the delays caused by Fulton County's center out of the loop.



No that is not true. I listened to the recording. The caller said *** Wales Street and the dispatcher repeated it back correctly and the caller acknowledged that it was the correct address. I already know this now. So my question is, did she give the Wales street address to the EMS crew and did the EMS crew go to the wrong place and is there a recording on that radio transmission?


Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal.

Me_max50

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Rated +2 | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Being a Communications Officer myself, and having answered my share of 911's, I  empathize and sympathize with her right now, bec Im sure she feels bad.  If there is a distinct division between their Fire call-takers, police call-takers, and ems call-takers, then their training is significantly different.  She should not have been fired due to the 'cell phone' argument.  I have personally taken calls that were in other counties.  The sound of Wales and Wells is phonically similar.  Our local problem is we may have a street with multiple designations.  For example, Jones Street, Blvd, Circle, Trail, etc.  in these subdivisions, and people dont realize there is geographically a difference in these.  On her behalf, I believe she should have confirmed a cross street.  We do in those types of cases, Ma'am, you are saying Jones Cirlce, off of Jones Drive, Correct?  Also due to the fact we have so many people with different backgrounds, national origins, etc that may pronounce something different.  But if she was not trained on that type of call-taking, then how is she going to know how to process the call. 


Ultimately my question is why isn't the supervisor who put her on console to answer the overflow fired instead.  The liability of putting someone w/o that training in that position is not the fault of the person, but the supervisor.  Yes, the loss of life in ANY situation is bad, but it all comes down to training and consistency.  If she didn't have it, then how can we expect a higher standard of service?


My heart goes out to the family with the loss, and the (ex) call-taker during this time.

Pub2_saturday_may_13_2006_op_800x759_max50

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Rated +2 | Posted over 6 years ago

 

Maestro_Brando says ...



Being a Communications Officer myself, and having answered my share of 911's, I  empathize and sympathize with her right now, bec Im sure she feels bad.  If there is a distinct division between their Fire call-takers, police call-takers, and ems call-takers, then their training is significantly different.  She should not have been fired due to the 'cell phone' argument.  I have personally taken calls that were in other counties.  The sound of Wales and Wells is phonically similar.  Our local problem is we may have a street with multiple designations.  For example, Jones Street, Blvd, Circle, Trail, etc.  in these subdivisions, and people dont realize there is geographically a difference in these.  On her behalf, I believe she should have confirmed a cross street.  We do in those types of cases, Ma'am, you are saying Jones Cirlce, off of Jones Drive, Correct?  Also due to the fact we have so many people with different backgrounds, national origins, etc that may pronounce something different.  But if she was not trained on that type of call-taking, then how is she going to know how to process the call. 


Ultimately my question is why isn't the supervisor who put her on console to answer the overflow fired instead.  The liability of putting someone w/o that training in that position is not the fault of the person, but the supervisor.  Yes, the loss of life in ANY situation is bad, but it all comes down to training and consistency.  If she didn't have it, then how can we expect a higher standard of service?


My heart goes out to the family with the loss, and the (ex) call-taker during this time.



I agree, you make a very valid point. My heart also goes out to the family with the loss, and to the former call taker.Another point I would like to bring up, is the tapes are often much much clearer then what we actually hear in the intial call. In our center we have the benefit at each call taking station, to play the call back. Which is helpful, as it is always clearer on the playback then what we intially hear. But even then, they still are not as clear as the main tapes that are recorded and kept. This is a real true problem.  It is a tradgic outcome, all the way around, but this obviously was not done on purpose. From what  facts have  been presented, I do not think firing the calltaker was appropriate, this was a real true tragic incident.I hope counseling was provided for the former call taker. When we get cell phone calls, even those that give a phase 2 location, even with retransmitting the call to see if it is moving, there are times when it is way off. This obviously was not done intentionally. I think this could of happened to any of us given the same circumstances. I love what I do, but it is very humbling at times, and the sad and scary part is, when a loss of life occurs, everyone these days is sue happy and wants to find someone to blame.The family that has suffered the loss, my heart goes out to, but personally I do not feel it was the "fault" of this former call taker. I have everyone involved, in my prayers!

Kevlar_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

And along comes an interesting "twist" to the story ...


 


Fulton 911 Operator Slept On The Job, According To File
911 Operator Fired After Woman's Death

ATLANTA -- The 911 operator fired after the death of a Johns Creek woman had a personnel file crammed with reports of mistakes, unsatisfactory work and complaints she slept at her terminal.


Gina Conteh's personnel file is 2,100 pages long.WSB-TV Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer combed through the file Tuesday afternoon for 90 minutes.She found officials reports of mistakes handling 911 calls, unsatisfactory work reviews, accusations of insubordination and the instances when Conteh fell asleep at her 911 call terminal. The accusations against Conteh led to five suspensions, multiple written reprimands, verbal warnings and even anger management counseling, according to Fleischer.Conteh was fired after Fulton County officials said she mishandled a 911 call that may have led to the death of Darlene Dukes of Johns Creek. After Dukes called for help from her home, it took more than 20 minutes for emergency crews to reach her and an hour for an ambulance to get to her."It's very, very troubling to think that we had less than acceptable standards of performance within our call center," said Fulton County commissioner Lynne Riley, whose district includes Johns Creek.The deputy director of the county's 911 center has been put in charge during an investigation of the mishandled emergency call that ended with Duke's death. County manager Zachary Williams said Tuesday that Alfred "Rocky" Moore, will continue to head Fulton's Emergency Management Agency but Crystal Williams will lead the emergency communications center. Moore has been director of 911 operations since 1997. He was appointed EMA director in July 2006. Williams has been deputy director since 2006.

Ben_1_resized_2_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 6 years ago

 

SAW ON NEWS TODAY THAT THE DIRECTOR HAS BEEN REASSIGNED, SHE MAY HAVE BEEN BAD EMPLOYEE,  BUT IM GLAD TO SEE THAT ARE PUTTING BLAME ELSEWHERE ALSO

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

I work for a place where about 25% of our streets either sound like other streets in our town or share the same name (and sometimes block ranges) with streets in neighboring cities.  To make things more complicated, they all ping off the same few cell towers.   Yes, a dispatcher has to pay attention, but in a busy agency there's a lot of pressure to gets calls out so you can move along to the next.  I also question the wisdom of giving streets/apartment complexes/whatever similar sounding names.  Apparently no one considered this kind of problem beforehand.  This dispatcher may have been a bad employee, but it sounds to me like a mistake anyone could have made.  I send my condolences to the family.

Policelinkbadge_max160_1__max160_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

Here in my county we are very rural, and while i have worked here, we get one guy who calls 911 all the time from his cell phone and he is the the county next to us. Before i was dispatching i called 911 about a fire by the side of the road in one of our cities, by homes and the woods around them, i couldn't understand why the dispatcher didn't know the street, then the town, when i finally told her i was in sharp co arkansas she told me that she would transfer me, that i had reached an oklahoma 911 center...i live closer to TN then i do Ok.


God Made Dispatchers So Policemen Would Have Heroes!

100_0015_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

The problem with this whole situation if it were to occur here in my county, would be our cad system itself. If it wasn't phase 2 and the caller was on B st, which one would it be? I have one in New Bern (covered by their own center) and one less tham two miles away in Bridgeton (handled by us)...Oh and there are a few addresses that are on BOTH. And if the address as was not one of the ones that should be in Bridgeton the computer will automaticly change it to Avenue B!!!!!! (which happens to be across the street from B ST in New Bern)...If the caller was as bad off as this one was, and if I had to listen to her, and the phones ringing off the hook (we are the secretaries secretary after all) and the deputy on his 14th traffic stop in 20 minutes and someone calling me on the fire channel to take their truck out of service and someone standing over me shoving a records check in my face by the time I look at my screen to figure out who the primar ems responder will be 9 times out of 10 the wrong unit will be going to wrong place, too....

072108_0009_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

The statement about the cell towers is very wrong. I work in a county of a little over 400 sq. miles and we have numerous cell towers. 50% of the time a call from the south end of our county will hit the north end tower or the west mountain tower. Although the dispatcher did a poor job of confirming the information for the call, it does raise a few more important questions.

1. Was the dispatcher properly trained? (Training is a very important part to this job. If they dispatcher was not trained properly, then who is to blame?

2. Was the dispatcher overworked?

3. What else was going on in the Comm Center?

M_1fea71ddb46bbfd4ee7416f03a00ad38_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

Ok, maybe their 911 system is different from ours...but when you call 911 here your name address and phone number show up on the 911 screen.   The dispatcher then verifies it with the caller.  Either way....smells like a lawsuit to me.


warm regards,
Penny
illegitimi non carborundum

Blue_hills_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 6 years ago

 

MaeWest131 says ...



Ok, maybe their 911 system is different from ours...but when you call 911 here your name address and phone number show up on the 911 screen.   The dispatcher then verifies it with the caller.  Either way....smells like a lawsuit to me.



The patient was on a cell phone so no address info was available.

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Rate This | Posted over 5 years ago

 

EVERYONE needs ot cut the "low-pay", "inadequately staffed" & "inadequate training" bull**** !!!


This dispatcher screwed up for 1 reason...& 1 reason only...A CASE OF THE DUMB***.


Common sense should tell someone that....you DO NOT trust the program when dealing with

cell calls...& u ALWAYS verify with the caller...whenever possible...the information provided...that

way the information can be verified and corrected if...in this case...it's incorrect.


In most cases...when someone makes a cell phone call...the signal basically randomly picks a

tower to hit off of...sometimes it may hit off closest one to you & other times, it's liable to hit off a

tower on the other side of town; U NEVER CAN TELL...therefore, you should ALWAYS verify a

caller's location before dispatching responders.

Furthermore, with land-line numbers, the information presented to you is not always an accurate

location for your emergency. The caller could be calling from a neighbor's house...or caught a ride

to the gas station 2 blocks down to make the call...SO, just like with cell calls, you ALWAYS verify

the location with the caller...


I'm sorry everyone...but I'm just sick & tired of all these cases we hear about where someone got

caught in a "DUMB***" moment...and then wants to throw up some B.S. excuse as to their dumb

moment...


 

Photo_user_blank_big

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Rate This | Posted about 5 years ago

 

This sorry made me very sad

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Rate This | Posted about 5 years ago

 

typo: "story"

Pict0024b_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 5 years ago

 

This story is very sad.


I live in Michigan and back in February of 2006 we had a woman die after a 911 dispatcher ignored her 6 year-old son's pleas for help. The 6 year-old, Robert Turner, called 911 and told the dispatcher his mom had collapsed on the floor and would not wake up. The dispatcher said Robert was joking and making a prank call and told him she would send a police officer to cheack on his mom but the officer never showed. After 3 hours Robert called back and got the same dispatcher and told her the police never came and she told him to put his mom on the phone or she was going to send the police and he would get in trouble. Robert got frustrated and hung up and waited for his sister to get home. When his sister got home she called 911 and EMTs were finally sent to the house but their mom had already passed away from complications of an enlarged heart.