Houston Changes 911 Policy After Girl Dies

HOUSTON --

The city of Houston has changed its 911 policy after a young girl died.

A Kingwood mother backed her vehicle over her 4-year-old daughter, Rebecca, in the 2300 block of Cumberland Oak in Kingwood about 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 21.

The mother called 911 and begged for an ambulance, but got a fire truck instead.

An ambulance was not immediately dispatched because of a recent policy that required a first responder to see if an ambulance was really needed. Since July, the Houston Fire Department has dispatched fire trucks to what it considers low priority calls before sending an ambulance.

Rebecca died.

"If my little girl can be an agency of change that can help some people, then some good has come out of this tragedy," said John Woodruff, Rebecca's father.

City officials said the policy change is not connected to Rebecca's death. They said the change was in the works before she died.

"This change was actually in the works and there were discussions ongoing about making this change prior to the Kingwood situation," city spokeswoman Janice Evans said. "It was based on feedback that the fire chief received from those who are out in the field."

"Whether or not that is true is largely irrelevant," Woodruff said. "They're going to say things like that."

Some firefighters have complained the current policy of sending trucks first slows down response time, and dispatchers are supposed to only do that only for non-critical cases.

Rebecca's death is under investigation. Woodfruff said he thinks the policy change should go farther.

"There's a problem on the front end if in a critical situation they're not sending the posse immediately," Woodruff said.

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