A Dunwoody City Council member is asking for a report on the handling of a 911 call made by a 79-year-old woman who apparently was put on hold while she was transferred from one agency to another.

Former City Councilman Danny Ross played a recording of the Jan. 8 call during the Jan. 27 council meeting. The recording showed the woman, who complained of shortness of breath, was placed on hold during the transfer of her call from a Chatcomm dispatcher to a DeKalb County dispatcher. Ross said it took about five minutes for the woman to be connected to a emergency medical and fire services dispatcher.

Dunwoody’s 911 calls are handled by the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, or Chatcomm, which is owned by the cities of Sandy Springs and Johns Creek. Dunwoody’s fire and medical services are handled by DeKalb County and dispatched by DeKalb County dispatchers. Ross has long advocated that the transfer of fire and medical calls from Chatcomm to DeKalb should be handled by a computer-assisted dispatch system, or CAD, rather than the single-button transfer now used. A CAD-to-CAD system would make the transfer faster, he argues.

“The delay in this [call] … could have been avoided by CAD to CAD,” Ross said.

But Dunwoody has been unsuccessful for about two years in efforts to convince Chatcomm and DeKalb to get a CAD-to-CAD system operating to connect the two agencies. City officials have met repeated delays. Kimberly Greer, assistant to the city manager, told council members Jan. 27 that the CAD-to-CAD system should be ready to “go live” by the end of February.

Councilman John Heneghan asked city staff members to report to council why a police car was not dispatched to aid the 79-year-old woman on Jan. 8 before the call was transferred from Chatcomm to DeKalb County dispatchers. Henghan said he was “livid” that police were not sent to the home in what appeared to be a medical emergency.

“What we heard tonight was troubling…,” he said. “I don’t think it’s what we signed up for and I would like to get a report on it.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.