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Colo. 911 call was misrouted, causing delay of one minute

AURORA, Colo. An Aurora emergency operator erroneously transferred a frantic call to the Denver 911 system to report the drownings of two siblings before realizing the address of the tragedy was in her city.

The call-taker caught her mistake within a minute and summoned Aurora firefighters to the apartment building where the sister and brother were found in the pool, Michael Bedwell, the city's manager of public safety communications, said Thursday.

It's hard to know whether the extra minute would have made a difference because investigators don't know how long the children were in the pool.

Aurora fire Capt. Michael Ackman said paramedics and firefighters responded to the scene in about six minutes.

The operator should have typed the apartment's address, 9901 E. Evans Ave., into the city's computer system, which would have indicated the jurisdiction as Aurora, Bedwell said. The information then would have been transferred to an emergency dispatcher.

Instead, the operator asked the caller if the address was in Denver, and he confirmed it was. Residents who live at the complex have Denver mailing addresses.

At that point the operator transferred the emotional caller to Denver's 911 system, according to the 911 tape.

The Aurora call-taker then asked the Denver operator if the address was in Denver, according to the tape. The Denver operator told her the address was showing up in Arapahoe County, which encompasses Aurora.

At that point the caller desperately pleaded to both operators: "Can somebody just get here?"

Bedwell said the Aurora operator soon realized the address was in her city.

"Of course it's an honest mistake, and of course, she feels terrible about it," Bedwell said. "However, it's our commitment to the citizens, and we do have procedures to limit mistakes as much as possible."

He said disciplinary action could be taken but declined to discuss it further, saying it was an internal matter.

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