The Lethbridge 911 system is under scrutiny
Published Saturday, September 4, 2010 5:37PM MDT
The Lethbridge 911 system is under scrutiny.
It comes after computer data used by dispatchers, contributed to a mix-up on a 911 call last week.
The issue delayed emergency crews who were trying to get to a man having a heart attack.
Friends and family describe Jack Stevenson as a youthful 89-year-old.
They say he seemed in good health, and was still very active, helping others with yard work and dancing twice a week at the Lethbridge seniors centre.
But last Wednesday, on the third dance of evening, Stevenson slumped to the dance floor.
Doreen Jurgens told CTV, "He just collapsed."
Close friend Doreen Jurgens called Stevenson's family, while others phoned 911.
Carl Thorton and another friend began performing CPR.
They were expecting help to arrive any minute, since the downtown fire hall is just seven blocks from the seniors centre.
But as precious seconds ticked by, people started getting anxious.
Thornton told us, "And we were doing what they figured was the right thing, but it was just too late, eh, much too late by the time they did arrive."
Doris Kimmitt said, "And I just couldn't understand why they weren't there when the fire hall is only about four blocks away, you know. Then some of the dancers had gone outside, they could hear the siren but it was not anywhere near where we were."
When EMS finally did arrive on scene 11 minutes after the call, Stevenson was treated at the scene, and rushed to hospital, where he died a short time later.
Now the fire department is issuing an apology and condolences to the family.
They say EMS was first sent to the wrong address, 133 Chris Kearns.
Officials say because the call was made from a cell phone, the location address did not show up on the computer system.
When the operator taking the call typed Lethbridge seniors into the computer, only one address came up on the screen, an address to the Lethbridge Centre Mall, where the Lethbridge seniors operate a bridge club.
Upon realizing their mistake, EMS went to the seniors centre.
Fire officials say it was 11 minutes before the crew arrived at the patient's side.
The Lethbridge Fire Department says one of the factors in this incident, is that calls made from cell phones do not provide accompanying address information.
If the operator would have typed in the words Lethbridge senior (without an s) the senior citizens centre would have popped up.
The computer program has now been changed, to recognize both spellings.
The fire service says going to the wrong location, delayed EMS four and a half minutes.
The computer program used by dispatchers has now been re-programmed to recognize both spellings for the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization.
The IT department is also working to more accurately pinpoint the location of cell phone calls, made from phones equipped with GPS technology.