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In a little less than three weeks, DC 911 dispatched DC Fire & EMS Department units to the wrong locations for what turned out to be two cardiac arrest calls, including a call where the patient was a child just born. Why DC’s Office of Unified Communications (OUC) had the wrong addresses isn’t clear. I’ve asked an OUC spokesperson to explain. STATter911 has long documented the chronic chaos at OUC. These include inaccurate and delayed dispatching of DC Fire & EMS, poor relaying of information, unanswered emergency radio channels, wasting of resources with duplicate dispatches and a general lack of knowledge of the city’s geography by OUC workers.
The first of the two incidents (radio traffic is above) occurred during the early morning hours of May 17 after a 911 call was received for a woman who had just given birth in her apartment. For some reason, the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) dispatched DC Fire and EMS to 3100 Wisconsin Avenue, Northwest. The correct location was 4100 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest. It took almost 45 minutes before anyone from DC Fire & EMS was by the woman’s side. It was then they reported the newborn was in cardiac arrest. STATter911 hasn’t been able to verify if the child survived. What also isn’t clear is why the units at 3100 Wisconsin, already on the street and just a little more than a half-mile away, weren’t then dispatched to the correct location. Instead, OUC dispatched a separate assignment to the Massachusetts Avenue address.
The second incident (radio traffic is below) occurred on Friday afternoon. OUC dispatched DC Fire & EMS to a home in the 400 block of Oglethorpe Street, Northwest for a 59-year-old woman in cardiac arrest. When firefighters arrived, the people in the home told them no one called 911. OUC checked back and discovered the call was actually for a home in the 400 block of Oglethorpe, Northeast. OUC dispatched a completely new assignment for the Oglethorpe, Northwest run. The officer of Paramedic Engine 11 knew they were only a little more than a mile away and attached his unit to the new run. Once on the scene, cardiac arrest was confirmed. Once again, STATter911 has not been able to confirm if the woman survived. STATter911 has documented many incidents where OUC dispatched calls to the wrong quadrant of the city.
This (Tuesday) evening, OUC is before the DC Council for a budget hearing. STATter911 alerted the office of Council member Charles Allen about these two incidents in hopes he can get some answers from OUC’s director, Karima Holmes. STATter911 also provided testimony for the hearing focusing on many of the incidents documented since the last hearing in January.