1. #1
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    Angry Dispatcher Confusion Cost Man His Life

    Nov 14, 2008 - CBS Ch. 11 Dallas/Fort Worth Texas:

    A North Texas woman says her husband died on a Fort Worth street because emergency crews were fighting over who was responsible for sending help.

    On a rainy morning, early in October, a Transportation Security Administration worker crashed on bridge near Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The wreck happened because the driver of the car, 50-year-old Tommy Nix, was having a heart attack.

    Now because Nix is having an emergency on Highway 183, near DFW Airport, -- the immediate help he needs is apparently stalled because of a line on the map.

    There are more than 15 minutes of 911 calls that were placed, trying to get help for Nix. Click here and here to listen to them in their entirety.

    Transcripts show one 911 call went like this
    http://cbs11tv.com/local/Tommy.Nix.911.2.864967.html

    DFW Airport officials say their ambulance arrived at the scene 18 minutes after the first call. It was 30 minutes after that call that the City of Fort Worth arrived.

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    It sounds more of an issue of being unable to find the scene, instead of a jurisdiction line dispute. Tragic nonetheless, but a dispatcher can only send people to where they are told it is.

    For the next several minutes, there was '911 call' confusion. As time ticked away, the crash address changed and dispatchers had to re-enter addresses.


    While two DFW Airport officers found the scene, dispatchers still couldn't figure out exactly what was going on and where medical workers should be sent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by edge1317 View Post
    It sounds more of an issue of being unable to find the scene, instead of a jurisdiction line dispute. Tragic nonetheless, but a dispatcher can only send people to where they are told it is.
    As you stated..."tragic nonetheless." After reviewing the tapes and knowing the area well, I (really) don't know if there is a "un-preventable solution" for a cell call like this. My immedate responce would be; keep the caller on-line and get an "exact" discription of the location (Rd. name / No., direction of travel, geographic/physical features (hotels, gas stations, commeical buildings, signs, etc.). However, in this case (and there are more like this than admitted), send someone to at least "look around," even if it may not be in their district. Just my humble opinion.

    This is an area where if you go a mile (or less) in any direction, you are in a different county and "responce" district; Ft. Worth, D/FW Intl., Irving and Euless, but ironically...only a few miles from any one of these responders.
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    Last edited by 1OLDTIMER; 11-15-2008 at 04:24 PM.

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    I listened to each of the 911 calls. DFW dispatchers said "not my jurisdiction" which is the reason the call was forwarded to the Fort Worth location. The DFW dispatcher never confirmed the location for the Fort Worth dispatcher. If the DFW dispatcher was uncertain as to where the caller was at, she should have kept him on the line. It is her job to dispatch-correct? Instead she said "uh hu" to confirm an incorrect location. So, we have an accident in which a life is dieing and gasping for breath with help so close yet, so far away. During the Fourth call you hear a MEDSTAR employee say "we are not speeding, it's raining". Medstar published a statement saying they were not involved. This happens everyday, everyone knows it. Facts are facts. It could have been prevented and a life could of been saved. The last call also had 911 dispatcher laughing saying "It's this jurisdiction thing". Who are these people? Would they treat the situation the same if it were there own child, mother, brother, papa, daddy-I doubt it. I believe Incompetent 911 callers killed Tom Nix. He did not die from a heart attack.

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    very sad...this is a perfect example to all of us to be aware of your surroundings. i do dispatch, and one of the most frustrating things to hear is "i'm not from around here". that's even more reason to pay attention, just for this purpose!!! someone's life may depend on it

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    IMO this happens at every center at one point or another. So many jurisdictions are "picky" about thier calls and the loc. I honestly wish that it was standard practice when close to a boundry line to dispatch both and see who gets there first. Then after care has been rendered they can argue over it. We had a fire at my FD that the caller stated, "I don't know the address, just set off the siren, they can see it from thier hall!!!" The dispatcher refused to enter it. She was so stuck on, "Address, address, address" that is drilled into our heads. Granted, it was in another jurisdictions boundry due to anexing, yet fire was delayed by at least 5-10 min as they had to come from 13 miles away.
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    I haven't heard the tape. but I will say this:

    I work for a busy dispatch agency, one that I started working at 2 months ago. I don't know the area. I am not from the area. I never worked the roads in the city that I dispatch at, and I don't know where all the local sights are.

    that all being said, being behind the dispatch console, you need to rely on the caller for information. last shift, I took a call for a report of a seizure in the next town over. now, I don't know the local landmarks there any more in that town than in my primary one. so when the caller says it's on smith street 3 blocks from the mcdonalds, what do I tell the field units? old saying, garbage in garbage out. and the ambulance arrive and could not find the caller.

    or when the call I received as being on "XYZ street" which happens to be one of the main arteries in the city, and the caller can't give me a numeric or even a cross street, and they are callling from a cell phone, what do you expect me to do?

    oh, and I love the call I received that the state police called in. 3 car MVA somewhere on a 6 lane highway, with a 6 month pregnant female that just wants to get checked out. By the end of the call, we had 1 BLS ambulance, 2 ALS ambulances, EMS heavy rescue, FD engine & rescue, EMS supervisor, and the PD Emergency Services Unit (along with various City PD and State Troopers doing their thing) all operating at the MVC.

    or at a call that I didn't take, for a man with a leg injury in the industrial part of the city, which resulted in the dispatch of 1 BLS ambulance. when that ambulance arrived, they found he hurt his leg when a CRANE fell on him, trapping his leg. This changes the needed resources, to add the supervisor, EMS rescue and an ALS unit to the dispatch. and did the dispatcher screw up? or did the caller just not provide the information that they should have given to the call taker?

    or even better, from my FT job in the road, getting dispatched to the intersection of two roads that are parallel to each other and don't intersect for an MVA. again, that's what the caller says, and that is what the dispatcher tells the field units.

    so if the caller can't give the right address, or keeps changing the address, and the dispatcher keeps forwarding it to the appropriate dispatch center (who knows the area better, since it isn't the original dispatcher's primary area), I can't blame the dispatchers. I blame the callers who didn't know where they were when they called 911

    and as for not speeding due to rain, well, you should never be speeding, because an ambulance that crashes helps no one.
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    ok, so I listen to the tape, and in my limited experience (ignoring my two years in upstate NY doing dispatching), I say these were the problems:

    1) 3 different comm centers, from the airport to City PD to the ambulance agency (medstar). just really annoying.

    2) the caller gave the incorrect location of the MVA. the 911 call went to the airport, who immediately notified city PD who said they already received the call. City PD already had units enroute.

    3) Airport PD arrived on scene, found the proper address, and updated all parties involved (airport dispatch, city PD, and medstar). they reported a 1 car MVC, with a previously unconc person, now conc with shallow breathing.

    4) somehow, the scene changed from a 1 car MVA with one (potentially serious injury), to a multiple vehicle crash with one potential fatality. and this change occurred while PD was on scene.

    the only thing that I think needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. Dallas needs to get more ambulances. the ambulances was enroute, but like in my city, not enough resources to cover an area results in extended response times. I didn't hear a dispatch screw up at all, other than the caller giving the incorrect location for the original call.

    The family is looking for someone to blame, and they are blaming the dispatchers because of the system that exist. municipalities pay for their own service. they are responsible for their own areas. until the citizens demand a fully paid for system that can handle the call volume, that can be a black hole for tax money (like the FD and PD are), then EMS will still have these types of problems.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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