Friday, August 1, 2008

Possible wrongful death suit over botched 911 call

The family of a Canadian toddler who died after ambulances were mistakenly dispatched to a home in another province is contemplating legal action after federal regulators found the Internet company and its call center at fault for the misdirection.

The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission found call takers at the 911 call center failed to follow regulations in April when dealing with an emergency call from a Calgary family. For the Luck family, who lost 18-month-old Elijah in April after the botched call over their Internet-based phone line, there is some vindication in the findings.

"It's time the truth came out. We did everything right," Elijah's mother Khadija Luck, said.

Elijah died after his aunt called 911 from the family's home using their VoIP phone.

The toddler -- who was had medical problems for most of his life after being born several weeks premature -- was having trouble breathing after waking up from a nap.

The call for an ambulance was answered by Comwave's contracted call center just outside of Toronto. And when the call was disconnected -- for undetermined reasons -- an ambulance was dispatched to the Luck's former home in Mississauga, Ontario, based on the address the call center had in its system. The Lucks had moved to Calgary two years ago. The CRTC ruled the call center did not follow regulations when an operator failed to confirm the family's location.

When using a nomadic VoIP, the call could be coming from anywhere, CRTC director-general of telecommunications Paul Godin said. No matter what the address is on file, the call may not be originating from that site. "Comwave, the call center Comwave uses, didn't follow the rules," he said.

In a statement released Wednesday, Comwave president Yuval Barzakay said the company and its contracted call center will adhere to the "new rules and obligations" outlined by the federal body.

The Luck family has since changed to a land-based phone line. (info from & Calgary Herald. Photo from Calgary Herald)

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