by thea marie
What's on my mind....
"Dispatchers didn't take call from woman's 5-year-old son seriously"
This is such a sad story on so many levels.
A little boy and his mother, who has a heart condition are home alone. Because she has health issues, she has taught her son how to use the phone to summon help should a situation arise where they needed it. She passes out in the kitchen (or the bedroom depending upon which version of the story you read), and he phones 911, as his mother has instructed him, to get help for her.
The child dials the number TWICE, actually reaches a dispatcher when he could have been placed on hold like a person often is when dialing 911, only to be admonished BOTH times to stop playing on the phone and to hang up. Allegedly, when the police were finally dispatched, it was not to help with the emergency, but to check the child for abusing the emergency phone system. By the time the police did get to the house, over three hours after the initial call, the child's mother was dead.
The first time I read the story, I was immediately taken aback by the Emergency Response people's adamantly defensive "explanation" that because they get so many bogus calls, they understood the veteran dispatcher's hesitance at taking the boy's calls. I have since read several other versions of what happened, but in each telling, the same theme rings true: the child's telephone calls for help, the thing his mother taught him to do to keep them safe, were ignored by the one person who was in a position to offer them a helping hand.
It's easy for me to sit here and armchair quarterback, I know, but as a mother and as a person who works with kids, this one hit close to home. I don't know if the mother would have lived or died if the calls had been put through right away. I does seem to me; however, that even though the operator couldn't tell if the call was legitimate or not, whether or not she and her superiors considered her an expert in her field and therefore a good judge of situations, since a child was involved it would have been better, in my opinion, for her to err on the side of caution.
Now a little boy, who did as he was told, is left without his mother despite his best efforts to get help for her. What will this do to his sense of trust? Will he feel guilty about what happened to his mother? Sometimes no matter how much you tell someone that a thing isn't their fault, they will always feel that it was.
The operator has to live with her decision to try to regulate somebody else's child- when it wasn't necessary for her to do so- rather than just going ahead, doing her job, and letting the chips fall where they might.
A family is devastated by what might have been the unnecessary loss of a loved one. Hopefully someone in the family is in a position to take the little boy in and he doesn't become a ward of the court now or somewhere down the line.
And now it seems Jeffrey Fieger is in the picture, and a lawsuit, one I have to say for once is justified, is looming. A city already in dire financial straits is facing having to defend its Emergency Medical system or accepting the blame and paying out a hefty fine. Despite what happens in this scenario, none of it will fix what happened.
Just sad all the way around.