Father of Heart Ailment Victim Raps 911 Dispatcher


 
 

James L. Smith | | Tuesday, December 4, 2007


FLINT, Mich.-- All Johnnie Wynn knew in the early hours of Sept. 23 was that his son needed emergency medical help, and needed it immediately.

What Wynn, 79, said he got was a frantic argument with a police dispatcher and a delayed ambulance response. Had he gotten help sooner, Wynn said, it might have helped save the life of his son, Larry Wynn, 53.

But what Wynn calls an argument with a Flint 911 dispatcher was simply an attempt to get more information so the proper help could be dispatched, said Stephen Todd, director of Flint s Central Dispatch Center.

I was heated, Wynn said. Here I am trying to get an ambulance, and (the dispatcher is) arguing with me. What does she expect me to do?

Larry Wynn can be heard moaning in the background on the recording of the 911 call Johnnie Wynn made.

Shortly after the event, Wynn said he called the police department to complain and was connected to a supervisor at the 911 center. He said he was told someone would come to his house to complete the complaint.

No one ever showed up, Wynn said.

Todd said he never received a complaint from Wynn.

A copy of the recording, obtained by The Flint Journal under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, relates a one-minute, 18-second call during which Johnnie Wynn tries to tell the dispatcher his son is unresponsive while she repeatedly asks to talk to his son.

In recent years, Johnnie Wynn also has lost a daughter and his wife.

Johnnie Wynn s call -- and the problems he said he encountered -- was the result of the number of calls in which emergency crews are met with hostile and combative patients and family members, Todd said.

It s important to find out what s happening, Todd said. We get a lot of people who are intoxicated or overdosed on drugs.

Callers also are not aware, as was the case in Wynn s call, that even while the questioning continues, the ambulance is dispatched, Todd said.

When the dispatcher told Johnnie Wynn to stop yelling at her, it was not anger, but an attempt to bring him back into focus on the call, Todd said.

This is precisely what we train them to do, Todd said. We regret that anyone passes away.

Still, a 12-minute ambulance response to the call was longer than the city s target time, Todd said.

A paramedic ambulance from Swartz Ambulance Service was dispatched because it was closest to the Wynn residence, and a fire department paramedic was not sent because the ambulance apparently did not indicate it would take longer than seven minutes to arrive, Todd said.

Current city protocols require that an ambulance company notify the 911 center if a response will take more than seven minutes so a paramedic can be sent, Todd said.

In some cases, when dispatchers are unable to determine the nature of the call or if there is a potential danger to ambulance crews, they will be told to wait down the street until police arrive and check the situation, Todd said.

That was not the case in Johnnie Wynn s emergency.

Dispatch records from Sept. 23 show the ambulance was dispatched first at 5:48:57 and then again at 5:49:57. Arrival time at Johnnie Wynn s home was 6:01:19.

We want better than that, Todd said.

Larry Wynn was pronounced dead at 6:04:27. It was later learned that he had a heart problem that he had not shared with his father out of concern for his father s feelings.


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