Tonawanda News

Letters to the Editor

September 12, 2012

READER LETTERS: 911 dispatcher bungled EMS call

Thank you to our wonderful North Tonawanda Fire Department and our quality rescue team for their quick response to a first aid call Saturday evening in one of the Bishop Gibbons parking lots, when an elderly neighbor from other senior housing along 19th Avenue came out of nowhere and almost collapsed in our arms. She had left her apartment seeking help and struggled to walk down the street. We helped her into my car because we were all in a parking lot and she was on the verge of collapse. We called 911 immediately.

Thumbs down, however, to the 911 service that wasted more than seven minutes talking to both me and then my son before ever sending out the call for help for this woman. This was my first experience calling 911 without it reaching our North Tonawanda Fire Department directly. We explained that we did not know the woman and we had no medical experience, but she definitely needed an ambulance quickly. Instead of requesting an ambulance, the 911 person wasted valuable minutes clarifying where we were — and then did not pass the information along to the fire department when she did put the call in to them.

The woman was so weak that the repeated requests for us to ask her about her symptoms was ludicrous. Between the dispatcher insisting we keep asking a woman on the verge of unconsciousness and panic questions sapping her strength, we also had to repeat our location because the 911 person had no knowledge of North Tonawanda. 

Had we been able to reach the fire department immediately our local rescue personnel would have been there 10 minutes sooner. 

The rescue vehicles and our quality responders came with their needed help and got the poor woman off to the hospital in less time than it took to get the 911 person to dispatch the need for their services to them!  

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