Ohio dispatcher tells 911 caller no ambulances available

Dispatch News, EMS News

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A man called 911 when his wife thought she was having a heart attack, and he was told by a 911 dispatcher that no ambulances were available.

Sandy Pierce, 68, said she felt clammy, nauseous and dizzy, and passed out. Her husband Fred immediately dialed 911, WCNC.com reports.

“I need an ambulance,” he said, and was told by a dispatcher, “We are unable to dispatch an ambulance at this time.”

He was told it could take 20 minutes or more until one was available, so he drove his wife to the hospital himself.

“I was ticked off,” he said. “What the hell was going on?”

He later received a call from EMS commissioner Nicole Carlton, who apologized and said there had been a mistake. WCNC reports that the dispatcher coded the call wrong, and an ambulance was available at the time.

“I was upset about it and concerned that this could have been something fatal for me,” Sandy said. “I was also worried about this happening to someone else.”

“I’m afraid to call EMS,” Fred said. “If I was to have an attack, or she was to have another attack, get in the truck, we are going to the hospital. Because I don’t know if EMS is going to show up or not.”

The incident is under investigation.

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