DC dispatcher sends BLS ambulance instead of an ALS unit for a cardiac arrest patient

The dispatcher who sent the first ambulance on scene didn’t mention to responders that the patient was in cardiac arrest

WASHINGTON — A dispatcher's decision to send a BLS unit to a call for a man down instead of an ALS unit is being questioned.

FOX 5 reported police found a man on the street who was unconscious and not breathing. The officers started CPR and called dispatch for further help.

About 10 minutes later, BLS Ambulance 27 arrived on scene. They continued CPR and deployed a defibrillator. Then they asked the dispatcher to send an ALS provider to the scene.

The dispatch center director, Karima Holmes, said the initial call went out asking for assistance to a man down, without mention of cardiac arrest. That is why a BLS unit was sent instead of an ALS one.

Holmes said the dispatcher hadn’t refreshed her computer and was unaware that ALS was needed until Ambulance 27 arrived on scene.

The patient, 67-year-old Lawrence Brown, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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