Cincinnati 911 dispatcher suspended for reportedly refusing to send ambulance to stroke victim

Officials say the dispatcher didn't initiated an EMS response during or after the eight-minute 911 call despite having the patient's address


David Matthews
New York Daily News

CINCINNATI — The city of Cincinnati suspended a 911 dispatcher who refused to send an ambulance to a stroke victim who was found dead the next day.

In an email obtained by NBC News, city manager Patrick A. Duhaney told the city council the dispatcher had been suspended after a “serious neglect of duty.”

The incident occurred on Jan. 12 when a neighbor of the victim called 911. However, the caller was on a different floor than the victim at their apartment complex and the dispatcher said the caller needed to be with the victim in order to answer a series of questions.

Throughout the eight-minute call, the caller pleaded with the dispatcher to send help, clearly stating the victim had suffered a stroke and was in danger of dying.

At one point, the dispatcher allegedly said, “We can’t force ourselves on him,” and, “If he doesn’t want help, they won’t do anything. He has to want to be helped.”

According to Duhaney, the caller eventually hung up and the 911 was closed with no help being sent.

An investigation into the incident found the caller had given an accurate assessment of the situation and the correct address 45 seconds into the call.

“Yet, they did not initiate an Emergency Medical Services response. Emergency Medical Dispatcher training explicitly states that a subject experiencing what appears to be a ‘stroke must receive an immediate response that is not subject to delay,’” Duhaney wrote in an email. “The call-taker was suspended with pay pending the outcome of the disciplinary process detailed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

The investigation concluded that first responders should have been sent.

“What took place on the night of Jan. 12 is nothing short of a tragedy,” Duhaney wrote. “It’s unclear if the individual would have lived or died, but the actions of this call-taker undermined the possibility of a positive outcome in this situation.”

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©2020 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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