Tonawanda News

September 12, 2012

READER LETTERS: 911 dispatcher bungled EMS call


The Tonawanda News

— 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!  

Change is often good — but changes which can result in the difference between life and death need to be seriously considered from all angles before being initiated — and then need to be re-evaluated when situations such as this occur.

— Donna Zellner Neal, North Tonawanda

Seeking justice for dog attack

On July 30, I was walking my dog. My dog was on a leash. A girl was walking her dog on the same side of the street. When I walked to avoid her, she dropped the dog’s leash. The dog ran towards me. He lunged for my throat and attacked me. Then he viciously mauled my dog. After the incident, the girl picked up the dog’s leash and walked home. If it were not for the people who came to my aid, my dog and I would have been killed. I notified the North Tonawanda police. When the police officer arrived, I showed him where the girl resides. The officer went to her house. I wanted to press charges against her because she was not in control of her dog. There is a leash law in North Tonawanda. The officer told me the girl would not be held responsible because he did not witness the attack. Witnesses saw the attack, how much evidence is needed? The officer told me it was an incident and not a crime. He also told me if I had died from being attacked by the dog, it would be considered a cime, then he would have pressed charges.

I went to my physician and was treated for dog bites and abrasions. My dog had extensive surgery. The veterinarian told me my dog was lucky he survived the attack. In my opinion, this police officer was not doing his job. A higher official should check and see how the police department operates. I called numerous times to talk to the chief of police about my situation. He never returned my phone calls. He wants the status of being the chief of the North Tonawanda police but is not maintaining his responsibilities.

— Susan Travis, North Tonawanda