Monday, August 25, 2008

Woman died after 911 dispatcher sent ambulance to wrong address

A Bucks County, Pennsylvania 911 operator was suspended after dispatching emergency crews to the wrong address. After the error Lynn Trusdell, 70, died in her home of an apparent heart attack. Medical personnel should have been sent to Trusdell's Lower York Road home but the suspended dispatcher incorrectly entered another street in her computer, leading the ambulance on a fruitless search for several minutes, according to Bucks County's director of emergency services.

In the meantime, police unsuccessfully used a defibrillator until paramedics received the correct address. The ambulance arrived 24 minutes after the original 911 call.

"All of our dispatchers try their best," said John Dougherty, Bucks County emergency services director. "They are human beings. I know it's difficult to say this to the poor soul involved in this, but when you have a human element involved in anything, you have the possibility of an error."

In January, Bucks County's dispatchers were re-trained after a Doylestown woman burned to death inside her home. County officials said mandatory re-training would be required due to the latest incident. Friends said it is difficult not knowing whether the delay cost Trusdell her life. "Accidents happen, mistakes happen," said a woman who knew Trusdell. "I don't know. Hopefully they can figure out something so it can be more direct when someone gives an address." (info from EMS responder)

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