Man dies while waiting for misguided paramedics

By Shaun Chaiyabhat, Reporter, schaiyabhat@clickorlando.com
Published On: Nov 12 2013 09:04:25 AM EST
Updated On: Nov 12 2013 09:05:28 AM EST

A 911 dispatcher who was distracted by her cell phone cost paramedics 15 minutes, allowing the victim of a heart attack to die.

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -

A 911 dispatcher faces a five-day suspension after she was distracted by her personal cellphone -- causing the person she was training to send paramedics to the wrong address. The victim, who was suffering from a heart attack, died while waiting for the paramedics.

Bob Hill, 58, died of a heart attack on Sept. 4 during a game of racquetball with friends. Fifteen minutes passed before ambulances arrived from Volusia County, because they were sent to the wrong recreational center.

"No one answered the door when we tried to reach Certified Training Officer Shauna Justice, but she admitted her mistake," said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson. "We messed up. She was very remorseful about what happened, very caring about it. She admitted to what her mistake was."

Video obtained from Local 6 shows the exact moments the 911 call came in, and how each dispatcher reacted. An internal review said Justice failed to properly supervise her subordinate as he recorded the location given by the 911 caller.

In the 911 call, the caller is heard clearly stating the cross streets of his location, but inaccurately reported the name of the Nova Community Center in Ormond Beach as the "Ormond Rec Center."

Dispatcher: 911, what is your emergency?

Caller: Hey. We need some help. We're at the Ormond Rec and one of our friends collapsed at the racquetball court. I don't know if it's a seizure or he passed out or what.

Dispatcher: Is that a park somewhere?

Caller: Yeah. It's the Ormond Beach Recreational Center, like Ormond Rec. Corner of Granada and...

Dispatcher: I'm listening. Granada and where?

Caller: Actually, it's Nova Road and Wilmette in Ormond Beach.

Instead of sending paramedics to the cross streets, the training dispatcher looked up "Ormond Rec Center" and sent units to 176 Division Avenue. Even the caller appears nervous as he waits for ambulances to arrive, and asks four minutes into the call:

Caller: Is anyone coming?

Dispatcher: Yup, they've been on the way.

The dispatcher is heard guiding the caller through CPR, but almost 10 minutes passed before the dispatcher realized his mistake and notifies Justice. The dispatcher who handled the call was given a written reprimand, but was not taken off the job.

It's unclear if the mistake made by dispatchers actually contributed to Hill's death. Even so, Johnson called it a "serious mistake" that "could have been avoided."

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