Ga. 911 System Under Fire - Again


There are new questions about DeKalb County's 911 response after an ambulance took 18 minutes to reach a teenage soccer player who collapsed on the field.

The private ambulance company that responded to the call said it did not have all of the information needed to find the location any quicker. But DeKalb County officials tell Channel 2 Action News they are not investigating this incident, or the countys 911 dispatch procedures.

Channel 2 Action News investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer said this isn't the first time emergency crews in the field have told her about DeKalb Countys 911 center failing to give vital information about a call over the radio.

In January, a Dunwoody woman died because crews couldn't find her house.

The latest incident happened Friday evening at Adams Stadium on North Druid Hills Road.

Sixteen-year-old soccer goalie Jonathan Brown was defending against DeKalb's Lakeside High School team when he collided with a player and was knocked to the ground. He kept playing but at half time, he collapsed with a head injury. Soccer trainer Doc Parker examined him and yelled to call 911.

"We waited, and we waited, and we waited," he told Fleischer by phone.

According to DeKalb County's computer-aided dispatch report, the call came in at 7:58 p.m. and was dispatched four minutes later. That ambulance didn't arrive at the field for another 18 minutes.

"It was more than frustration, it became anger because my expectation was that we had an emergency call," said Parker.

CARE Ambulance contracts with DeKalb County to answer non-life threatening calls. Fleischer asked Regional Vice President Doug Tisdale what caused the delay.

He remarked, I'm not sure, all I know is our unit was dispatched to an intersection and our unit responded to that intersection which apparently was not where the actual patient was."

That intersection was North Druid Hills Road and Briarcliff. They arrived within 11 minutes, but saw no soccer field at the busy intersection. The 911 dispatcher did not give an exact address, only a nearby intersection of Tullie Road. There was no field there either. The ambulance criss-crossed the streets for seven more minutes looking for the call, then pulled over.

"We have laptop computers in all our ambulances where we do our patient care reports. They actually got on Google trying to find this Adams Stadium to get an actual address to go where the call was," said Tisdale.

Brown went to the hospital with a head injury. His family said after days of headaches, he's returned to school. The county said it is not investigating the delay on this call because no one has asked. But Doc Parker said thats not true.

"The fact that I did call and ask for an investigation and complained about the service, I think they're overlooking a very important need to serve the entire population of DeKalb County, said Parker.

Fleischer has requested an interview with DeKalb County Public Safety Director Wiz Miller, but a spokesperson said he was tied up in meetings all day. He asked for a written list of questions. She asked why there is no investigation into this incident, and whether he considers 18 minutes an acceptable response time for an ambulance.

Miller said he would review the call and respond on Friday.

Copyright 2010 by . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.