To the editor:
The Dunwoody ChatComm system has been a topic of much discussion recently, with most of that discussion focused on the time it takes calls to get to the proper authority. As a registered nurse, I would like to present another side to the ChatComm discussion. This time it involves a 911 call and a Dunwoody resident who did not survive.
Early in the 911 call, the male resident had no pulse and by the time 52 seconds of the call had passed, the caller told the ChatComm operator that the man was not breathing. The ChatComm operator’s response? The caller was told, “I will transfer you to DeKalb.”
Few attempts at resuscitation are successful if CPR and defibrillation are not provided within minutes of a collapse. But in this case the caller, when connected to the DeKalb operator, had to go through the entire scenario a second time.
Fortunately, all Dunwoody police cars carry Automated External Defibrillators. Although Dunwoody police were notified, an officer was not immediately dispatched.
Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan explained the reason why in a Feb. 25, 2014, memorandum to City Councilman Terry Nall. “Based on the audio of the 911 call, it appears the male subject was already deceased at the time of the call.”
Based on the audio of the 911 call? How on earth can the chief presume to make that determination? Police did not arrive on the scene until 19 minutes had passed.
Chief Grogan states in the same memo, “The deceased male also had a pacemaker implanted, which would prevent the deployment of an AED.” The chief is wrong. According to the American Heart Association, an AED may be used on patients who have pacemakers provided the pads are not placed over the pacemaker. If the chief is not familiar with current procedures for employing an AED, how much can we expect from the officers who respond to citizens in distress?
In the case cited, although the caller begged for EMS help, the ChatComm operator did not even suggest using CPR. So we have a ChatComm transfer of the call to DeKalb and the resulting delay, and we have the determination of death over the phone, and most importantly we have a Dunwoody resident who did not survive.
Bob Mullen, the city’s marketing and public relations director, asserted in a statement that the police determined there was no connection between the death and the response of the emergency units or 911 dispatch. What he does not explain is how the police made that determination. Was a physician consulted, or a registered nurse? How could anyone other than the Almighty know there was no connection?
For the past three years the city of Dunwoody has been paying ChatComm to facilitate a rapid response to those in need. We can only guess at how many times in three years life- threatening delays have occurred.
It is a mystery to me why the city of Dunwoody has put up with unsatisfactory ChatComm service for the past three years, and still these problems remain. Isn’t it the job of the city manager to resolve issues such as this? And what about the City Council? They focus on spending our tax dollars on projects that they are enamored with, while continuing to let slide issues that are far more important to the lives, literally, of our citizens.