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Phoenix officials investigating death of 911 operator who fell ill after shift

Phoenix 911 Operator Pamela Cooper had been working overtime while recovering from COVID-19, family members said

By Laura French

PHOENIX — Phoenix officials have opened an investigation after the death of a 911 operator who fell ill after a shift.

Phoenix 911 Operator Pamela Cooper was recovering from COVID-19 and worked a 16-hour shift on her first day back to work, 12 News reported. Cooper’s husband, Joel, said she had asked to leave early because she didn’t feel well, but was told she needed to stay.

Cooper’s condition worsened the next morning, and she was rushed to the hospital, where she was placed on life support. Cooper died on Friday, March 5, about a week after she was brought to the hospital.

Officials confirmed that the City of Phoenix Human Resources Department is investigating the circumstances leading up to Cooper’s death, according to 12 News. Cooper’s family questioned why she was made to work extra hours despite feeling sick.

AFSCME Local 2960 union officials told 12 News that the city’s 911 centers are short-staffed and dispatchers are regularly faced with mandatory overtime hours. A city spokesperson said there are 54 full-time 911 operator positions the city is currently working to fill.

The union has launched a fundraiser to help support Cooper’s husband and mother, and a separate online fundraiser was also set up on behalf of the family.