Their Heart Just Isn’t In It

, , , | Working | June 19, 2017

(I work at a hotel on the night shift. Tonight, about 20 minutes into my shift, my security guard radios telling us he needs an ambulance to the staff break-room — for himself. We call right away, but he stops responding on the radio and we don’t know exactly what the issue is.)

Emergency Operator: “What is the problem he’s experiencing?”

Coworker: “Well, we’re not sure; he’s at the back of the hotel and we’re at the front, but he has had some documented medical issues recently.”

Emergency Operator: “Well, I need you to go to where he is and call me again from there with details.”

Coworker: “Okay.”

(She hangs up, and is about to start walking back, but barely gets five feet before one of the housekeepers radios again saying that the guard is having a heart attack. Not wanting to waste a moment, I tell my coworker to keep going but call for an ambulance again immediately.)

Me: “I’m calling from [Hotel]; our security guard is having a heart attack!”

Emergency Operator: “Okay, well, is he sitting up or laying down?”

Me: *thinking that the way this transaction should have gone was ‘I say heart attack, you say ambulance’* “What? I don’t know! I’m not where he is right now!”

Emergency Operator: *sounding annoyed* “I told the other girl that she needed to call me from where he is.”

Me: “Yeah, I know, but then we were told he is HAVING A HEART ATTACK! It’s a big hotel! I didn’t want to waste the time of her getting back there!”

(I actually had to radio to the back and get my coworker to tell me things like whether he was breathing and what position he was in before she’d send me an ambulance. Thankfully they got there in time — and yes, it was confirmed to definitely have been a heart attack!)

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  • MangoAngel

    I very much hope someone reported that operator.

    • I’m an emergency operator as well and they did precisely as they are supposed to. Maybe with a little venom (but we all know that these stories are never embellished by the author, right?) but it was correct. You’re supposed to get the caller to the patient’s side to render what’s known as Post Dispatch Instructions. It’s part of an internationally-acclaimed protocol that has been shown to save countless lives. Even an unskilled (in first aid/medical care) caller can give critical lifesaving care to a patient with emergency operator intervention. Gone are the days of “Just get an ambulance here! *click*” – except in some people’s minds.

      • Pickwick2

        So, if I’m calling because someone fell down a well, I’m supposed to climb down the well after them to render assistance? Just send the ambulance when someone says they are not in the vicinity — instead of playing whisper down the lane. If the rule book for your locale doesn’t allow for outside the box, it’s time to take a long hard look at your rule book!

        • Nope, you’re not supposed to “climb down the well after them”. Are you seriously arguing that going into a break room where a guy is having a heart attack, and climbing into a well – an inherently hazardous region – are the same thing? One of us needs to apply more common sense to their argument, and it’s not me…
          Were you to have your hypothetical ‘fall down the well’ call, I would tell you to stay with the patient but not put yourself in danger. A sensible, sane, educated person would take that to mean stay by the well. You would also be instructed to watch for the emergency crews and direct them to the scene. And to tell the calltaker immediately if anything changes or if the crews arrive.
          If “the rule book” for YOUR locale says it’s OK to just holler “send me an ambulance” and not give any more information, it’s time for YOUR rule book to be updated (or, more likely, written for the first time).
          It all boils down to this: Yes, you’re having an emergency and it’s traumatic and you’re confused by being asked things. STOP PANICKING and listen to us. We do this all day every day. We know what we’re talking about. You WANT our help, so allow us to help you. Nobody’s demanding for things to go their way just because that’s what the “rule book” says. They’re doing what they’re doing because it’s a tried and proven method to getting the most effective care to the patient in the most expedient manner. If you don’t want my help, there’s nothing I can do to make you take it, but not taking my help does not improve the chances of survival for the patient.

          • Pickwick2

            No. I’m not arguing that. I’m arguing that, as the story states, the person having the heart attack is at the other end of the building. That a person having a heart attack requires IMMEDIATE assistance. By the time the caller got to the patient’s location, he could have been seriously dead.

            And as far as I can tell, the caller was not “panicking”. Color outside the lines much?

          • “By the time the caller got to the patient’s location, he could have been seriously dead.”

            Sooo… what does that have to do with anything?

            Are you insinuating that the ambulance wasn’t sent as soon as the calltaker knew the address and the type of call?

            Because I GUARANTEE YOU, if that was the case, this would have hit the media (at least the emergency services media, which is an actual thing – news sources that circulate within the industry) LONG before the general public found out about it on Not Always Right.

            It is an industry standard to have emergency crews dispatched in a very short period of time (measured in seconds, not even minutes) and agencies which don’t meet that benchmark get famous in the industry VERY FAST and are not anonymous enough to not get outed very publicly.

            If the person is going to be dead by the time somebody runs (or even walks) across the building to them, then an ambulance or fire truck sent from X blocks away, even if X is 0, is not going to help the person. As I mentioned before, we can’t teleport/parachute crews to emergency scenes. They take time to get there, and in that time, YOU CAN HELP by following the calltaker’s instructions. Even if it means you have to walk aaaaaallll the way across the building.

          • Pickwick2

            Oh, go guarantee yourself elsewhere. I had no quarrel with you until you picked one. Buzz off.

          • Hahn Ackles

            … Says the person who first replied to his comment?

            Jason is quite correct, although perhaps the dispatch operator could have been more clear that help was already on the way.

          • Rond

            Not insinuating. Stating, based on the report. Coworker called 911. Was told, “Well, I need you to go to where he is and call me again from there with details.”

            Tdhat doesn’t sound like help was dispatched within seconds. Or even minutes.

          • Don’t have to insinuate anything. The story itself said the dispatcher wouldn’t send an ambulance until she got the information about the patient.

          • decius

            The author SAID that the dispatcher wouldn’t send an ambulance.
            The caller doesn’t often need to know the details of the response, especially when they can be performing first aid and possibly making the outcome much better. Meanwhile the ambulance is dispatched an on the way.

      • Janet Snow

        The proper response from the Operator would have been “I’m sending an ambulance to your location” before telling the coworker to head back to the patient. Operators aren’t supposed to tell people to hang up and call them back, either. Based on the details of this story, the call was definitely mishandled.

  • Sim

    The oprator can dispatch the ambulance while she talks to you. After the original dispatch and the ambulance is en route, she gets further info to relay to the EMTs.

    • Revvys

      Yes, I know this, but at no time did she say she was actually sending anyone. It wasn’t until after I gave her the details she wanted that the words ‘okay, an ambulance is on the way’ left her mouth.

      • JaeLo

        If you’d like more information on how and why dispatchers run calls like that, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have! I tried to give some more information in another comment in this thread, if it helps. I’m so sorry you had a poor experience with your emergency, and the calltaker should not have given you any attitude. I hope your coworker was okay! 🙂

    • Bonnie Seaberg

      Heart attacks are stressful to bystanders who don’t know what’s going on on the emt side. How hard is it to say “the ambulance is on its way, can I get some more information “

      • Derek Hartley

        Because as soon as the words ‘the ambulance is on its way” left their mouth the caller is likely to respond. That’s how people behave under pressure sadly.

  • Autumn Darian Sabisch


    • Wendigone

      Each asterisk represents a smack she deserves with the compassion and logic stick.

  • Lord Circe

    Oh, look, a gatekeeper. Thinks that she has the authority to dictate if they “really” need to send an ambulance, when all she is qualified for is to relay information to those who actually make the call.

    • Ian Rennie

      Pretty sure that emergency service operators do more than relay information. They’re stage 1 of triage.

      • Lord Circe

        True, true. This is just rubs me the wrong way, like nurses who think that because they can take vitals and have ‘seen it all’, that it means they can make a diagnosis and block patients from actually meeting with the doctor they are scheduled with.

        Once the operator had made the determination that this wasn’t a prank call (or at least decided to treat it as an actual emergency), then her priority should be pushing out the response as quickly as possible. If there is information that they don’t have about the patient’s condition (given that they are not trained medical professionals, or, like in this case, due to the fact that they don’t have eyes on the patient), then the operator should assume and prepare for worst case from what information has been given. If the person at the other end of the phone can’t tell you if the patient is consious or unconsious, for instance, you should move forward as you would if they are unconsious, rather than wasting time trying to dictate to the person on the other end of the phone how to tell if they are consious.

        • JaeLo

          You should take a tour of your local PSAP and ask about their emergency medical dispatch procedures. They are usually set up to where you can dispatch help while asking questions. Multitasking is an absolute must. 🙂

          • Lord Circe

            Agreed. Most dispatchers should have basic EMT training, so that they can perform triage appropriately, but unless they are having a shortage of ambulances and need to ration which of them go where, then they should be dispatching the ambulance and updating them with the details on the way. From the sound of it, the dispatcher in this case was letting her annoyance at not being “obeyed” keep her from actually doing her job.

          • JaeLo

            It’s not actually EMT training, it’s something completely different; EMT training is hands on and approaches calls in a diagnostic manner, whereas EMD protocols (emergency medical dispatching) focuses on maintenance of the patient’s current medical status. There are protocols in place for medical calls and the questions we need to ask, so triage is closer to accurately determining the nature of the emergency based on key questions and responding appropriately. Please understand that I am not approving of the dispatcher’s apparent attitude, not at all. That is not appropriate. Emergency situations can be very stressful on private citizens and they are everyday, every minute concepts for us – attitude of any kind is wrong. What I am saying instead is that I promise, there is usually a reason to the way we handle things (medical protocols, SOPs, script wording, etc). Before I was a dispatcher, I had no idea how things all went. It’s pretty incredible. 🙂

          • Lord Circe

            Right, I wasn’t sure of the name, but my aunt went through that training before she ended up moving over to a nursing career. I fully understand the importance of getting the right information out as quickly as possible. I even understand getting the information before you tell them the ambulance is on the way, because saying that can make them think the call is over and then they hang up without giving you the information you need to actually get the proper response set up.

            It is really just the one line that set off my initial response: “I told the other girl that she needed to call me from where he is.” That was what showed me that her attitude was a Gatekeeper, not a Facilitator. She was focusing on keeping out those who didn’t have the right information or who weren’t running according to her script, rather than focusing on facilitating getting the information from the panicked citizen on the other end of the phone into the hands of the response team. It’s like shutting down someone calling in a domestic disturbance for only having the street name and not the house number.

            And finally, thank you for your service. I know that you have to put up with a lot and deal with quite a bit of stress to do your job, so thank you for being willing to do so.

          • JaeLo

            Yeah, first time I told a caller to get by the patient and they couldn’t (landline and the patient was outside), I was cussed at. It’s not so much the gatekeeper mentality as it is that someone who isn’t with the patient and can’t get us up-to-date information on their condition can’t really help us with what we need. Yes, it is (our particular PSAP’s) policy to tell a caller to do what they have to to get a phone and a person in the same place next to the patient, including hanging up and calling us back from another line. Not ideal, but still, we can get better information (and yes, an ambulance will be on the way in the meantime for an unknown medical emergency). It can really be awful sometimes, some of the (call them what they can be) demands we put on citizens during a call like that. I’ve been on both sides of a 911 call, and I’m an EMT on my days off, so I get every side of the story. I just hope the vast majority of calls are not like this.

            And no need for thanks. It’s not a job, it’s a life. 🙂

          • Torbjörn Axelsson

            Also, at least in Sweden, operators work in pairs, One is focusing on the caller, asking questions, giving advice and moral support. Meanwhile the second operator listens to the call and dispatch help.

          • Nic

            I was just going to mention that if no-one else had. The operator should be dispatching the ambulance and then trying to find out more information to pass on while the paramedics are on the move; they shouldn’t be making an ambulance dispatch conditional upon first receiving that information.

    • Cristian Ilkka

      Uh, they are the ones who make the call & set priority. At least in Finland.

    • Kitty

      Ah, like the receptionist-nurse at a hospital, when my mom came in splattered with blood and asked for a gurney because her boyfriend had just vomited blood in the car. The nurse said, “Just put him into a wheelchair”.

  • sakasiru

    Did no one go and check on him after he requested an ambulance? The emergency operator is a jerk, but I wouldn’t have waited until they tell me to go look after the patient.

    • Revvys

      Well, up until the point where we called, he was talking to us on the radio, and trying to be a tough guy (in spite of the ambulance call) so we didn’t think anything was super wrong. Once we got someone on the line, of course, was when he stopped responding. Even if the operator hadn’t told us to go check on him we would have.

      • sakasiru

        I see, it seem things happened very fast. Then again, couldn’t you have put the housekeeper on the line who was with him at the second call?

        • Revvys

          She was a little hysterical… possibly not the best person to talk to at the time honestly. Also, for whatever reason, even though there’s a phone in the break room (where they were) I can’t transfer calls to it.

          • Torbjörn Axelsson

            Sounds like you should ask for that possibility after this incident. Or some other way to be able to use wireless phones in the facility to call out.

    • heymoe2001

      The standard order is to call for help, then go assist.

      • sakasiru

        This only makes sense when you are alone and can’t call for help from the patient’s side or on the way to him. You can’t really tell the operator much if you are not beside the patient, nor can you act on his advice (like giving CPR).

  • Rebecca Allan

    Emergency operators can be amazing. Unfortunately on rare occasions they add to the nightmare. In my case I called for the fire brigade because my 4 year old and I were trapped in our house during a fire. After remaining as calm as possible during the call, including giving very explicit directions to our home and the room we were in, I had a weak moment. There were some loud cracks, pops and bangs just outside of the room we were in and one of those little girly yips escaped from me, think of the noise your dog makes when you accidentally step on its paw and you’d be pretty close! In a tone of voice that conveyed boredom and irritation the operator said “What are you screaming for?!” I so wanted to yell at her “I’m trapped in a f*@#ing burning building with my child, I think I’m allowed ONE f*@#ing scream, don’t you?” I only restrained myself because I was trying really hard to reassure my child everything was going to be ok and seeing your mum freak out isn’t very reassuring!

    • Kerrie Mills

      Totally understandable… I would’ve been strongly tempted to call back later and discuss it with a supervisor, though.

      • Rebecca Allan

        I was largely just grateful that even though we were both unconscious when rescued we were alive and well. Add to that the frustration of trying to sort your life out, housing, clothing etc. Every company and agency you speak to having the same problem, “Hi my house just burned down and I’ve lost everything, can you help me?” “Sure, do you have any I.D?” “No my house burned down and I lost everything!” “How about your birth certificate?” “NO, my house just burned down, I’ve lost everything!” “What about a utility bill?” “No, I neglected to run back into a burning building to grab a copy of my last gas bill, Sorry!” It would have pulled my energy and attention away from the more important things x

        • Ashley Whitman

          Oh my gosh, I would have been screaming and terrified!!! Also, the people needing ID for everything after you JUST told them you lost it all?? Bizarre -_-

        • Kerrie Mills

          Of course. Again, totally understandable, and I’m so glad you’re safe and well. 🙂

        • Trihan

          Bad enough that you were in a terrifying situation like that, but a lot of people don’t consider the nightmare when you come out of the other side as well and have to rebuild everything that was lost.

        • Laren Dowling

          Most jurisdictions require they keep recordings of all 911 calls. I know you’ve had a lot to deal with, but for the sake of future callers who shouldn’t have to put up with a dispatcher like that, you might still want to consider calling in to complain.

  • Steve Gaucher

    A heart attack isn’t a time sensitive malady. Realistically, only a stroke really is.

    • Revvys

      Er… it absolutely is. Quick treatment can save heart tissue (or, you know, their life).

      • Revvys

        … as are quite a few other ambulance-worthy issues… especially any involving blood loss/flow…

    • heymoe2001

      Time is muscle!

      • Rick Kennedy

        I think I had that tattooed inside my eyelids during paramedic school.

    • Trinity Morningstar

      BULL! My dad had a heart attack last year!

      • Laren Dowling

        And my dad had 3 during the course of my sister’s wedding day alone. Not to mention the dozens of others he’s had. Still a time sensitive issue. By the way, I have my EMT certs, as does my mother, so I’m not some uninformed layman. I actually have studied this malady in depth.
        While my father has only had minor heart attacks so far, they still required quick treatment in the form of nitroglycerin pills and medical attention. A major one could kill him.
        So if your father has another heart attack, be sure to get him treatment immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage is done.

      • Whiteprime

        Then you should have prayed harder lib!

    • Dana Micciché

      Where did you get your medical degree, in a cereal box?

      A heart attack is absolutely a time sensitive “malady”. Full disclosure: I’ve been certified for First Aid, but I only know doctors and paramedics, I am not one myself.

      • Laren Dowling

        I’ve got my EMT certs, and my father has serious heart problems, so I’ve studied up on the subject. You’re quite right. It’s time sensitive. That’s part of why folks with known tendencies to heart attacks are given a prescription for nitroglycerin. That’s a fast-acting medication, but they still need immediate follow-up.

    • ittybittyphoenix

      Let me see, heart attack,, arterial severing, severe burns, smoke inhalation, anaphylactic shock, suffucation, severe trauma, poisoning…there’s a lot of “time sensitive malady” qualifying things out there that EMTs get sent for all the time.

    • Asiyd

      You… wow. My Uncle recently died from this so called non time sensitive malady. He died before they could even get him out into the ambulance… they were called immediately and got there extremely quickly.

      Where did you get your information… ? …Because it’s dangerous information.

    • RallyLock

      Dang, Steve – this comment is giving Matt Westwood a run for his money in the “How long will it take before people realize I’m just trolling” category!

      At least, I seriously hope you’re just trolling on this one…

      • Laren Dowling

        I hope so, too. Because heart attacks are not something to screw around with.

    • Kitty

      When my mom was having a lung embolism, the operator made a mistake and wrote down the wrong housenumber, so the ambulance took unnecessarily long to make it there. She made it, but only because she realized she was feeling bad, went to lie down cause she felt faint and is way too freaking stubborn to faint.

    • Laren Dowling

      Yes, it is. I don’t know where you’re getting your medical information from, but heart attacks are *very* time sensitive.
      No, not every heart attack is deadly. My dad has had dozens (if not hundreds) of minor heart attacks. But a major one like can be deadly, and often does serious damage.

  • Harold Wagner

    “He’s having a heart attack! Get your f*cking a$$ down here now!”

  • Christina Macias

    My mothers appendix burst and the operator wanted her medical history. She spent 15 minutes on the phone before saying the ambulance was on the way

    • Torbjörn Axelsson

      They should have said immediately that the ambulance was on its way, because it was, unless you have a really messed up system.

      • WC

        While I tend to agree, I’m betting that people tend to hang up after hearing “the ambulance is on the way” and thus the operator can’t get the rest of the questions answered. And those answers can save lives.

        • tulip_poplar

          Also, my appendix ruptured 5-7 days before it was diagnosed and treated (we don’t know exactly what day it actually burst), so while it’s not a great situation, it’s not one where minutes matter. I wonder how she knew her mother’s appendix had burst? Or maybe she only found out after the fact. It’s not like anything explosive happens. You start off with pain from the appendicitis, and then you just keep getting sicker and sicker. And then the doctors finally think to do a CT scan and then rush you into emergency surgery, followed by a month recuperating in the hospital.

  • Gretchen

    Some people are just not fit for that kind of job. I know they have to ask questions, but they can ask them while sending out an ambulance.

    • Torbjörn Axelsson

      They _are_ asking while sending the ambulance, constantly updating the crew en route to the patient.

      A little education in this area goes a long way, so please read what JaeLo writes. That way you may have one less useless thing to worry about when calling emergency services, and some understanding why it is important to be on site.

      Of course hanging up made no sense, and emergency operators should be more professional, but it is a high stress job and even they can have bad days. Most of the time they end up getting another job if they have one though.

      • Gretchen

        Yeah, I actually know they send an ambulance while asking questions, at least here, but my comment was built up around what OP said: “…what position he was in before she’d send me an ambulance.”. By that it seems they didn’t send an ambulance before, but it is indeed more likely they did already send one out and just mentioned that it is coming after they were done with the questions.

  • Wendigone

    That useless chunk of excrement has no business being a 911 operator.

  • From what I understand, Triple Zero procedure is to send the ambulance, then try to get details and have the caller render temporary assistance…. I’d like to think that’s the same with Nine One One, so please… stop arguing with the caller and just send the damn emergency vehicle.

  • JaeLo

    Just a 911 dispatcher popping in. It’s frustrating to answer those sorts of questions, I know, and the dispatcher should definitely not have had an attitude. However, there are protocols we have to follow to best assist the citizens and prepare our medics. We ask about breathing because if there are any questions about the efficiency of the breathing, we have to help the people on scene address it. Knowing the position the person is sitting can be important, and dispatchers have training and medical programs that assist with palliative and life support while an ambulance is en route. You say heart attack, there’s already an ambulance dispatched. But we have to have more information. Patient’s weight – what if we need to add more help for lift assist? Is there aspirin around and does the patient meet the criteria for it – this can help save a life in a cardiac event. Are there access issues, are our medics going to need to bring special equipment in, etc. Your answers to these questions are absolutely crucial! Medics running back and forth to their unit to get equipment adds so much time. Waiting for extra help for lift assist can take minutes that could save lives. So yes, absolutely frustrating, but for the voice on the phone, you’re our eyes and ears for what’s going on, and we are so, so grateful!

    • Eavan

      The problem is that the dispatcher was waiting until the questions had been answered before she sent the ambulance — either that or she let the caller assume that was the case.

      • JaeLo

        And that’s got to be terrifying, I know. Help will ALWAYS be on the way (blanket statement, I realize, but pretty close to accurate). There are often partners – one asks the questions while the other drops tones and dispatches units and coordinates aid. Yes, a little reassurance can go a long way, and we try to do what we can to assuage fears as we take a call. But that said, we need that information we’re asking for, quick as possible. What if the patient goes into cardiac arrest and we need to give CPR instructions? What if the patient starts having a seizure? There are some types of calls we don’t end until our medics are right there with the patient. And our protocols usually don’t take more than 2 minutes to run through from start to finish. It can feel like a lifetime, though.

        If you can take an afternoon to tour your local PSAP (actual term for our centers – public safety access point), please do! Dispatchers are the behind the scenes; take the calls, run through medical protocols, dispatch fire, medics, and law enforcement, handle all radio traffic in all fields, answer non-emergency lines, and so much more, 24/7/365, often on 12 hour shifts. I love when schools and churches and citizens tour our center, and you’d be amazed how much we try to make your worst day even the slightest bit better.

      • Prove it. Prove she (or more likely one of her colleagues) didn’t send an ambulance *simultaneous* with her questions ongoing.

        • Laren Dowling

          It’s not a question of whether she did or not. That’s unknowable without reviewing the PSAP records. But she should have TOLD them she was dispatching an ambulance BEFORE demanding they hang up. Reassuring and calming the caller is an important part of the dispatcher’s job.

  • Denton Young

    After your guard was safely in the ambulance, you should have filed a complaint with the [female dog]’s superior.

    • Laren Dowling

      Still can. They’re required by law to keep recordings of 911 calls.

  • Sionyx

    Having lost family members to heart attacks, I hope that idiot got reported. Yes, the operator is the first step of the triage, but info can be sent while the ambulance is en route. A person with known health issues radios asking us to call an ambulance, stops responding (!!), then is confirmed to likely be having a heart attack by someone in the room? Send the blasted ambulance. That man could have died, and seconds count during heart attacks.

  • RallyLock

    It may have already been mentioned somewhere else – but usually (though admittedly not always), the dispatcher DOES actually send the ambulance right away. They ask those questions (i.e. “What position is he in?”) so they can tell the EMT’s what to expect when they arrive at the scene, while the EMT’s are still traveling – not to determine whether or not an ambulance is actually needed.

    Look at OP’s story – NOWHERE did OP mention that the dispatcher said anything about “I won’t send an ambulance until you answer these questions.” So, don’t blame the dispatcher for trying to be thorough and get accurate information to pass on to the EMT’s.

    EDIT – Sure, OP did have ONE line at the bottom; “…before she’d send me an ambulance.” However, without being there – I have to wonder if that was just OP’s gut reaction. I can picture a panicking co-worker thinking to themselves “She never SAID she was sending an ambulance, therefore she never DID send an ambulance”, without taking anything else into consideration. Dispatchers aren’t required to tell you what sort of response they’re sending – again, their job is to get as much accurate information from you as possible, so they can pass that information on to all responding units.

    • Laren Dowling

      While what you’ve said is true, it’s also important to keep the person on the other end of the phone calm in order to get that information. And this operator’s attitude seems to have had the opposite effect.

  • Kitty

    “B****, this is not a f***ing bleeding nose, this is HEART ATTACK. GET THE F***ING AMBU HERE!”

  • Nora Miller

    My daughter was cleaning the fryer at work when her hand slipped into the hot oil. Her coworker called 911 to get an ambulance to take her to the hospital. The dispatcher kept asking question instead of sending the ambulance. Finally, the coworker hung up and called their boss. She came right away and took my daughter to the hospital in less time than it would have taken to answer the questions and then have them send the ambulance. Thankfully, she only had a couple of blisters on the back of her fingers. The quick thinking of her coworker helped. She took my daughter right to the sink and stuck my daughter’s hand under cool water.

  • Rodrigo Freitas

    Having worked as a 911operator I can tell you this is exactly how you do it. I as the call taker answer the phone and put in the information. I then forward a CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) ticket to my fire/police dispatcher who will direct the emergency services via fire tones and radio all while I ask those vital questions that cam help both you and the first responders provide the life saving care the person needs. On a rare occasion as the call taker I may have to call the ambulance my self on the radio but you will never hear it as I can only talk on the radio or the phone with my mic. Even if I am on the radio I can still here you, you just can’t hear me. The ambulance was already on the way before your coworker even told the 911 operator you were not near the patient. Our goal is to have a ticket posted in 30 seconds or less aka I get the address from you, confirm it, find out whats happening and post the ticket. I can still add notes to it but this way the dispatcher can give it out while I keep talking to you.

  • Kudos to my counterpart in Oklahoma for doing a great job with your emergency. You might want to rethink the “before they would send me an ambulance” part though. From the moment you give your address and that an ambulance is required, *an ambulance is on the way*. The questions we emergency operators ask and the instructions we give *don’t delay the ambulance* and in fact, allow *you* to help the patient survive. See my comment below to MangoAngel about Post-Dispatch Instructions.

    Just remember this:

    (1) It’s impossible to teleport an ambulance directly to your side, as much as people want this to be able to happen.
    (2) Stop shrieking and being hysterical at the emergency operator, and listen to what they’re saying. Following these instructions will allow you to save a life.
    (3) The questions aren’t stupid or unnecessary – they’ve been fine-tuned by an international organization over decades of use in emergency service organizations all over the world, from Britain to New Zealand to the United States and Canada and 40 other countries. The millions of calls that this system has been used for are proof that it works, despite the people who just want to scream “GET ME AN AMBULANCE!” and hang up on us.

  • Marianne

    I understand both sides.Dispatchers need to have an updated account of whats going on, what medicines he may have taken etc…..but they also need to have a little more patience considering a lot of people arent used to emergency situations and could be in a panic.

  • Laren Dowling

    How hard is it to say “Call me back as soon as you get there. I need more details to pass on to the ambulance, which is on it’s way. Call back. Now go.”? That way, you still get your pertinent information, but you also reassure the caller that help is coming, instead of sounding like you’re withholding the ambulance out of spite.