It’s so hard to find good help nowadays…
An Atlanta 911 dispatcher initially sent emergency crews to the wrong address when responding to the May 7 accident in which a homeless woman was fatally injured in the demolition of a house, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
In the first 911 call, a tape of which was obtained by the AJC, the caller identifies the correct location of the incident — Daniel Street in the Old Fourth Ward — four times.
The dispatcher, whose name could not be obtained Friday, even repeated the correct address. But then he dispatched emergency responders to a location on Daniel Avenue — five miles east of where Janice Durham, 51, was dying while trapped under the rubble of the demolished house, the AJC confirmed Friday.
“That’s really disheartening,” said Randevyn Joyner, 32, the man who placed the 911 call. “For a 911 operator to make that kind of error, it is really quite unacceptable in the field of what they do, because it could mean somebody’s life. That’s a piece of information — that’s a piece of the puzzle — that they have to get right every time.”
As a result of the error, the first unit to arrive at the correct location — an Atlanta fire crew — got there 18 minutes after the first 911 call came in. A Grady EMS ambulance arrived one minute later.
The conversation between the caller, the dispatcher, and the emergency team went as follows:
“There’s been a demolishing of a house and there is a woman inside,” he says, according to the tape. “The house is being demolished by order of the city — code compliance ordered it to be demolished. There’s a woman inside the house. We need an ambulance immediately.”
Once he gets off the phone, the dispatcher calls Grady EMS, the city’s ambulance provider.
But when giving a Grady EMS staffer the information, the dispatcher misspeaks, replacing ‘Street’ with ‘Avenue.’
“I’ve got 68 Daniel Avenue, Southeast,” he says.
Off the ambulance went a minute later, heading to that location, Grady spokeswoman Denise Simpson said.
Nine minutes after the original 911 call, a second man phoned the city’s 911 dispatchers.
“We’ve called and it was 10 minutes ago,” he says. “We need an ambulance here pronto.”
The dispatcher quickly transfers him to the Grady EMS phone line. He gives the same information to the ambulance dispatcher. He tells the dispatcher, too, that they’ve been waiting 10 minutes for an ambulance.
“We’re on the way, sir,” the dispatcher tells him.
Before hanging up, the caller’s frustration shows.
“This is ridiculous,” he says.
It wasn’t until after that conversation that the dispatchers realize the mistake.
“He said Daniel Street. Is it Daniel Street?” the Grady dispatcher says.
“Yeah, he gave us a different address. We have 68 Daniel Avenue,” the 911 dispatcher responds. “Let me let them know to have them respond to that location … Daniel Avenue is a different address.”
So this woman dies because some dumb-a**, coffee sippin’, switchboard operator, can’t get an address right?! They ought to bring the dispatcher up on charges, bet if this happened in some rich white neighborhood they would have gotten it right…