Dispatcher 'misinterpreted messages' in Canada man's death
Lawyers also questioned whether dispatcher was overwhelmed with work that night, given that emergency workers were on strike at the time
The Toronto Star
TORONTO — An emergency dispatcher who took a 911 call about a dying man in the lobby of a downtown apartment building told an inquest Monday he should have followed emergency protocol more carefully.
It took three 911 calls and 35 minutes before emergency crews arrived at the Alexander St. building, but by then 59-year-old James Hearst had died of a heart attack
Rory Donoghue was working the night of June 25, 2009, when he picked up the second 911 call. At the other end of the line, a security guard and two passersby were trying to resuscitate Hearst, who had collapsed on the floor.
In the 911 recording heard Monday, the security guard told Donoghue that Hearst was not talking or responding to questions and had turned "blue in the face."
Donoghue said he thought "blue in the face" meant that Hearst's head was bruised. He did not upgrade the call's priority.
Meanwhile, a pair of paramedics were "staging" at Yonge and Alexander Sts. - waiting for police backup - because they believed Hearst had been drinking and so was a safety threat, said government lawyer Stefania Fericean.
Fericean asked Donoghue why he didn't tell paramedics that a security guard was already at the scene.
He said he failed to see the alert on his computer screen that paramedics were "staging" outside. He thought the crew was en route to the lobby.
Lawyers also questioned whether Donoghue was overwhelmed with work that night, given that emergency workers were on strike at the time.
Donoghue testified he was working as a clearing coordinator, managing crews who transport patients to hospital. He was asked to take the Alexander St. call because of the "overflow" of 911 calls that night.
When asked about the overflow of calls, he said he could not remember whether the centre was short-staffed or there were an unusually high number of emergency calls that night.
Donoghue was suspended following Hearst's death and later placed on probation, with his calls monitored for a period of time. He received two days of remedial training in October 2009.
Outside court, Hearst's partner, Alejandro Martinez, said he was shocked to hear the extent of the problems that prevented Hearst from getting medical help in time.
"There were more problems than I expect. A lot of things went wrong that I didn't know went wrong," said Martinez. "It's very difficult to (hear) . . . but it's good to finally have some answers."
The coroner's inquest, before Dr. Albert Lauwers, is set to run until Feb. 17.