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Snoring Dispatcher Confused 911 Medical Call

A Montgomery County (Md.) dispatcher who answered a 911 call and then fell asleep snoring, confused a second dispatcher who thought the snoring was a person having breathing problems. The unnamed dispatcher who fell asleep has now been put on paid administrative leave during an investigation. The incident began on April 4th just after midnight with a 911 call from a woman reporting that her husband was turning blue from a breathing problem. County fire chief Scott Graham didn’t fully explain, but apparently the call was routed to a dispatcher to provide emergency medical dispatch (EMD) instructions. However, after answering the call, the dispatcher fell asleep. The answering dispatcher then took over the EMD process with the woman, for whom English was a second language. During the six-minute call, the woman’s misunderstandings of the dispatcher’s questions, and the sounds of snoring confused the dispatcher who was providing EMD. At least twice the EMD dispatcher mistook the snoring for the patient’s breathing problem. Graham said that EMS units promptly responded to the incident, and the sleeping dispatcher didn’t contribute to a delay or any medical jeopardy. Read more about the incident here, and listen to the 911 call here. Update: Fire department officials say the involved dispatcher has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation. The dispatcher was a uniformed firefighter who was 17 hours into a 24-hour shift.

On May 24, 2012 CNN’s Nancy Grace tackled the incident, and was highly critical. View excerpts from the video or the full video.

1 comment… add one

  • Adrian McMullan May 23, 2012, 7:08 am

    WOW—-outside of narcolepsy what could be the problem—extreme exhaustion? I hope the dispatcher recovers from this and is able to continue in his duties. Glad the caller received appropriate help and no harm done.