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911 dispatchers' slow response times cause crisis in Delaware County

Delaware County commissioners examine incidents where several people, including three children, have died in the past nine months.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL Published: June 26, 2013
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Other incidents were presented to the commissioners, including that of a 3-year-old who died in a house fire on Sept. 26 near Lakemont Shore.

“The (911) dispatcher told her (the mother) to hang up and call the sheriff's office,” Parris said.

Parris asked the commissioners, “Who has time to look through a telephone book?”

“It's not an isolated incident — it's a total breakdown,” resident Michael Morris said, referring to the 911 department.

Morris' 16-year-old son, Chase, died May 20.

“For four minutes and 45 seconds you hear (the caller) begging and pleading for help,” Morris said.

When the ambulance didn't arrive, Chase's brother and friends pulled him into their vehicle and drove to the hospital where they met the ambulance in the parking lot, he said.

The state's medical examiner said the autopsy for the teen is pending.

“From my house to the hospital is one minute and 31 seconds,” Morris told the commissioners.

Moore said the 911 center recently purchased PowerPhone, which will train the dispatcher on how to help callers.

Moore explained the equipment will direct the dispatcher on how to talk a caller through CPR, or other lifesaving measures. Moore said the training hasn't started, but once completed, the sheriff's office will be the only small agency in the state to have this type of equipment.

“We know we have an issue,” said Tom Sanders, county commissioner for District 2. “Can they be corrected overnight? No.”