Pennsylvania Dispatcher’s Mistake Ends with Baby’s Death

Call taker typed the wrong address, sending paramedics three miles from where the baby was.


 
 

ADAM BRANDOLPH, Pittsburgh Tribune Review | | Friday, June 18, 2010


An Allegheny County 911 call-taker directed paramedics, firefighters and police to the wrong address when someone reported an unresponsive baby in Crafton Heights, delaying treatment by six minutes for the 3-week-old girl who died an hour later.

Bob Full, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services, said Tuesday the call-taker typed the wrong address into a computer, routing responders to a location about three miles from the apartment where 21-day-old Jordyn Anderson needed help.

When emergency crews arrived at the incorrect address on Crane Avenue at 6:20 a.m. Friday in Banksville, they radioed back to a dispatcher and received the correct information, Full said.

When paramedics arrived at the correct scene on Crucible Street -- 14 minutes after the initial call -- firefighters were performing CPR on Anderson, who died at 7:13 a.m. at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville.

"This is a sad and tragic situation," Full said. "We answer about 5,000 calls a day. This one here is one we wish we didn't get wrong."

County Medical Examiner Karl Williams said there is no evidence that the six minutes might have made a difference in saving Jordyn's life. An autopsy is pending, Williams said.

A woman who answered the door at the Crucible Street home declined to comment.

The call-taker, whom Full would not identify, was placed on paid leave pending the results of an internal investigation, which so far has involved listening to 911 tapes.

"It is very unfortunate that our units were sent to the wrong location," city Public Safety Director Michael Huss said.

City Councilwoman Theresa Smith, whose district includes Crafton Heights, said she plans to meet public safety officials to address concerns that the 911 call center is not operating up to snuff.

"We (as city officials) have a responsibility to the residents," Smith said.

A part-time 911 call-taker in April 2009 failed to warn city police officers sent to a domestic dispute about weapons in the home of Richard Poplawski, who is accused of killing three officers at his Stanton Heights. An investigation this year placed some blame for a Hazelwood man's death on city EMS workers who staffed the 911 center during February's snowstorms and mishandled some calls his girlfriend made.

Full said he takes responsibility for Friday's incident, saying the delay in response "has been clearly identified here within the 911 center operations."

Pittsburgh police separately are investigating Jordyn's death. Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said investigators do not consider his death suspicious.



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