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911 service arrived at the wrong address: how often there are mistakes that can cost life

After calling the emergency services, 71-year-old Betty Morrison waited for rescuers for almost 11 minutes. When they arrived, the caller had no heartbeat. The emergency service went to the wrong address, writes News5Cleveland... ForumDaily decided to figure out how often such mistakes happen and what comes of it.

Photo: Shutterstock

There is no general statistics on how often rescuers go to the wrong address. But on the net you can find many similar stories that make you shudder. After all, one small mistake can cost a person his life.

Betty Morrison

According to the records, at 9:37 a.m. on September 5, 2017, Morrison called emergency services because she was having an asthma attack. During the conversation, Morrison clearly states that her address is 19219 Lanbury Avenue, Warrensville Heights, Ohio. She confirms that this is her address when the dispatcher repeats it.

At 9:40 am, one of the two rescuers radioed to confirm the address: "19419 Lanbury." The dispatcher did not correct them, she did not answer them at all. Five minutes later, the rescuer relayed the address to Morrison over the radio again and asked to clarify if it was really the correct address, since they were told that they had not called 911. Twenty seconds later, dispatcher Hamilton answered and gave the correct address. She said 19219.

At 9:47 am, the firefighter reported on the radio that they were "at the scene" at Morrison's house. A minute later, the crew requested assistance because the woman had complete cardiac arrest. They then took Morrison to Southpoint Hospital, where the patient was pronounced dead.

Marcus and Gray Morrisons, sons of Betty Morrison, said no one had told them that the rescuers had gone to the wrong address on the day their mother died. The official bug reports do not mention it.

The children of the deceased only learned about the mistake because a neighbor who lives on Lanbury, 19419, told them that the rescuers stopped at her house first.

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Eager to understand what had happened, Gray wrote a letter to Mayor Brad Sellers. The brothers then contacted the Cuyahoga Ko Sheriff's office with a request to investigate the incident.

The investigation determined that Morrison's erroneous address was not an isolated incident. It turned out that rescuers repeatedly came to the wrong addresses due to constant failures in the city's emergency systems.

One rescuer said that problems occur "at least a couple of times a month."

Similar errors in DC

Former reporter and security advocate Dave Stutter listened to emergency calls in D.C. for months and says he saw the same issues that could be a matter of life and death. Fox5.

On February 29, 2020, an incident was recorded in the control room audio recording when the rescue team was sent to the wrong address. The cardiac arrest call came from 426 Brandywine Street Southeast, but the dispatcher transmitted the call as 4226 Brandywine Street Northwest, 22,5 km from the actual call site.

The emergency services admitted that the dispatcher had made a mistake and luckily the patient did not have a cardiac arrest.

Several rescuers were unable to reach dispatchers for more than five minutes on February 25, Statter said.

“Is there anyone who follows Channel 11? We've been calling for seven minutes already, ”said the rescuer.

A technical error resulted in the crews being able to communicate with each other only through certain channels.

“Individual subscribers and dispatchers are not to blame. This is a systemic problem with the DC 911 service, ”said Stutter.

The loudest incident in recent months involved dispatchers and their delay in sending rescuers to the site of the deadly Kennedy Street fire. In August 2020, an adult and a 9-year-old boy died in a fire.

Despite a radio call from a police officer to report the fire, the dispatcher waited four minutes to dispatch rescue teams.

The service did not admit any wrongdoing during the Kennedy Street fire and said their protocol was followed. Officials noted that the first fire engine arrived at the scene around the average reaction time.

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The statter calls for more control and audit of the operations of the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) and 911 services.

“Some people pay attention to what happens in DC only after someone dies. Little attention was paid after the Kennedy Street fire. More attention will be paid again when someone dies, ”Stutter said.

The OUC said in a statement: “The Office of Communications receives 1,4 million emergency calls each year and dispatches emergency responders to nearly a million emergencies. The public expects us to respond appropriately to all requests and we strive to meet those expectations. In the unfortunate case when a mistake is made, our task is to quickly identify it, understand why it happened, and quickly eliminate the error. In this way, we maintain the highest level of service for our residents and those in crisis. "

Murder of a teenager in Milwaukee

In 2019, Malik Terrell called 911 and told an emergency operator in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that he had beaten a 15-year-old boy to blood and planned to kill him. JSOnline.

He told the operator his full name and address: 3356 N. 12th St.

But when the operator entered the address into the Police Department's dispatch system, she was mistaken - she did not hear Terrell and dialed 10th Street. The dispatcher dispatched two patrol cars to 10 3356th Street.

On May 11, a 15-year-old victim cries when he calls the emergency services.

The police found him eight days later. By then he was dead.

As investigators of the internal affairs found out, without confirming the address, the operator Bonnie Muziya violated the department's code of conduct.

Chief Alfonso Morales dismissed the charges. He did not punish Muza, and she still works in the service. Morales didn’t even order the retraining of the Museum, didn’t discipline the police dispatcher, didn’t issue official reminders throughout the department for employees to check addresses, didn’t take any other action.

“I listened to the emergency call and did not believe that the operator's actions were taken out of malicious intent, but it was an unfortunate mistake, a human error,” Morales said.

He expressed his condolences to the victim's family. The victim's mother, Dombany Lincoln, strongly disagreed with his decision.

“Someone should have been brought to justice, not just Malik, but also the operator, dispatcher or whoever answered the call,” she said.

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“They should have done better,” she continued. “They don't seem to know what they are doing. They didn’t ask the right questions and there were enough of them. It's just not fair. "

The police spent 30 minutes looking for Terrell before answering the next call.

Meanwhile, Terrell's assault on 15-year-old Dennis King continued.

Terrell claimed that someone stole his video game system at gunpoint. He and his family said they believed Dennis, nicknamed Booman, knew something about this.

In an attempt to get him to speak, Terrell and his half-brother attacked the teenager with a hammer and brutally beat him before delivering a fatal blow to the neck. Then they loaded the teenager's body into a trash can, took it to an empty house, doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.

When the charred remains of a teenager were found, 21-year-old Terrell was arrested in Chicago, Illinois. Terrell pleaded guilty to first degree murder. In December 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The judge in the case called it "the most heinous, brutal, sadistic and depraved murder that the public has seen in many years."

Non-existent address and blocked phone

Emergency operators are trained to redial a 911 caller if they hang up.

But Muzia couldn't do it because Terrell's cell phone had either run out of minutes or hadn't had a service contract.

As a result, he was unable to receive incoming calls and the only outgoing call he could make was to 911.

Unable to find the address of the call, the officers knocked on the door of the house closest to the nonexistent address. The owner let them in, and the officers did not notice any trace of blood or fighting.

Muzia said it dialed what it thought the caller had said: North 10th Street.

She repeated the address as she spoke to Terrell, and he did not correct her.

“I think I have responded appropriately,” she said.

Milwaukee Police Department policy is: "It is absolutely essential to check the locations of reported incidents of a serious nature."

If the answering staff cannot find the caller, department staff should check for data errors or misunderstandings and listen to the audio recording of the call.

In this case, this did not happen.

On the day of the call, no one told Muziya that the officers could not find the address, and the dispatcher did not ask her to check it.

Emergency operators are also required to "verbally confirm location, numbers and other important information."

Another emergency operator, an experienced ward instructor, reviewed the call to law enforcement officers and discovered that Muzeum had not verbally confirmed Terrell's whereabouts.

But Morales said in a statement that Muzia heard the wrong address and repeated it “several times” to Terrell, which directly contradicts the investigators' reports.

“I think she stopped breathing,” a DC teen tries to save his mom as 911 sends doctors to the wrong address.

At the request of the Freedom of Information Act, the 911 DC call center on Thursday released a chilling and disturbing audio recording of the teenager's desperate pleas for help.

A mistake at a cost to life

In November 2020, 13-year-old Maria Shepperd struggled to resuscitate her dying mom. She thought that help was on its way, but the call center worker sent rescuers to the wrong address. The girl did everything right, even artificial respiration for almost 14 minutes after her mother Sheila Shepperd stopped breathing, writes wusa9.

It took the rescuers almost 21 minutes after the first call from Maria to finally arrive at the site. It was too late by then.

An audio recording of the June 5 call, first received by Communications Daily, suggests that someone in the DC emergency call center made a mistake that cost Shepperd his life.

"Where is your emergency located?" - said the interlocutor on the tape.

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414 Oglethorpe Street, St. Northeast, ”Maria said very clearly.

The girl on the phone made it absolutely clear that she was at St. Northeast.

"You can repeat?" - asked the interlocutor.

“414 Oglethorpe NE,” Maria repeated in a broken voice.

Instead of sending medics to St. Northeast, someone from the UC entered the address as 414 Oglethorpe Northwest, which is about a mile and a half from the scene.

Arriving at 414 Oglethorpe NW, the firefighters quickly realized that an error had occurred.

Meanwhile, Sheila Shepperd's condition worsened.

“I think she stopped breathing,” Maria told the emergency operator. "I'll start compressing the chest."

Maria began to administer artificial respiration to her 59-year-old mother.

Six minutes after calling 911, Maria asked the operator, "Do you know how long it will take for them to arrive?"

The operator could only say "soon".

Thirteen minutes after the start of the call, the operator checked the address again.

“414 Oglethorpe, Northeast,” Maria repeated.

Finally, more than 20 minutes later, rescuers appeared at the door. They took her mother to the hospital, but she did not survive.

“They let her down,” said Maria's grandmother Billy Shepperd. “They let this family down. And in a sense, they let everyone down in this city. "

The sad statistics

The UC insists that these kinds of errors are rare: only 0,004% of 3,5 million calls last year resulted in errors.

However, these are still 140 potentially invalid calls that most likely cost lives.

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