Metro sent fire & EMS to wrong VA Silver Line station for man in cardiac arrest
Metro workers began CPR at Reston Town Center but Fairfax County firefighters were delayed by bad information
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One Monday morning this statement was issued from a WMATA spokesperson:
Metro addresses a number of medical emergencies related to customers daily. We are looking into our response to this incident and how we can improve our efforts in the future. Our deepest sympathies are extended to our customer and their family.
The following is the response to STATter911 questions after the initial statement from a Fairfax County spokesman:
The dispatcher clearly says there is now a supplement with the new address from Metro. What time was that?
09:15:23 Fairfax asks to verify location
09:16:51 Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) confirms address change
09:17:22 Location changed from 1901 Reston Metro Plaza to 12023 Sunset Hills Road at METRO-Reston Town Center North Pavilion.
Sorry, that still doesn’t answer the question. At approximately 09:15:24 (OpenMHz times can be a few seconds off DPSC times) the dispatcher says, “The last supplement indicates Reston Town Center Metro Station and gave that address.” The question for Fairfax County remains: When did DPSC get that supplement with mention of the Reston Town Center Metro Station?
All of the material in this latest response was already published by STATter911 in the radio traffic from OpenMHz (below). It shows the dispatcher asking the ROCC fire liaison to confirm the address change. The liaison does that at 9:16:48, (just three seconds before the official time from DPSC listed in the response above).
What I’m trying to determine is what occurred at DPSC between 9:07 and 9:15. In other words, after the initial call and before Engine 425 says they couldn’t find anything at Wiehle-Reston East. (Expecting new info today, Wednesday, that fills in the gap.)
The following statement is from a Fairfax County spokesman:
On March 20 the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) received a call from the Washington Metropolitans Area Transit Authority (WMATA) via the non-emergency phone line at 09:06:59 reporting a cardiac arrest at the Wiehle Metro Station. DPSC dispatched Fairfax County Fire and Rescue (FRD) to the incident at 09:08:45. The first unit arrived at the dispatched location at 09:13:10. This was identified as the incorrect location by responding personnel. Working together, FRD and DPSC redirected resources to the correct location, Reston Metro Station and arrived on the incident scene at 09:19:29.
The information from Fairfax County still does not answer a key question I asked of them, “What time did Metro make the call back to the 911 center with the updated location?” STATter911 has re-asked that question.
STATter911 has learned firefighters and paramedics were delayed almost 10 minutes yesterday (Monday) morning responding to a man in cardiac arrest at a Northern Virginia Metro station. Radio traffic and multiple sources familiar with the incident indicate bad information from Metro directed emergency crews to the wrong address in Reston shortly after 9:00 a.m. The correct location wasn’t discovered until the first Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department crew arrived at the platform of the wrong Silver Line station and couldn’t find a patient. Additional fire and EMS crews were dispatched to the correct rail station where Metro workers were doing CPR on the man. Despite the resuscitation efforts the man died.
This incident appears to be the latest in a decades long pattern of Metro providing bad information to 911 centers along with fire and EMS crews during rail emergencies. Just two weeks ago, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) again acknowledged this issue in a report about a smoke incident at the Courthouse Metro Station. WMSC is an independent agency charged with providing oversight of Metrorail safety. WMSC wrote in its report, “Metrorail’s calls to public safety answering points (911 call centers) are inconsistent, incomplete and contribute to delayed or ineffective emergency response.”
While STATter911 has, so far, confirmed the mistake made by Metro it’s not yet known if any of the delay was caused by actions of workers at the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC or 911 center).
At 9:08 a.m. yesterday, an engine and ambulance from the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department were dispatched for a medical emergency at 1901 Reston Metro Plaza. That address is adjacent to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. Within a few seconds of the first dispatch the response was upgraded to a cardiac arrest, sending additional units (radio traffic above from OpernMHz.com).
At 9:13, Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) fire liaison called by radio to Engine 425. As the firefighters worked their way to the Wiehle-Reston East platform the liaison told Engine 425’s crew that a camera showed Metro workers doing CPR on the man (above).
At 9:15 a.m., Engine 425 reported they were on the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station but couldn’t find a patient. The DPSC dispatcher said there was now additional information on the call. The dispatcher reported a new location at the Reston Town Center Metro Station. That’s about two miles from Engine 425’s location. Simultaneously, the dispatcher worked to verify the new information with Metro’s fire liaison as the 911 center and fire and EMS crews scrambled to get closer units to the Reston Town Center location.
In this series of transmissions (above), the DPSC dispatcher said the “initial caller called from Metro” providing the 911 center the wrong location. This has also been confirmed by multiple sources familiar with the incident but unable to speak publicly about it.
At 9:20 a.m., Truck 425 confirmed they were with the patient at the Reston Town Center Metro Station (above).
Firefighters and medics took over CPR from Metro workers, administered drugs and used their defibrillator. Metro workers also had an automated external defibrillator (AED) with them.
The man was eventually taken to the emergency department of nearby Reston Hospital. Resuscitation efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
What did Metro know?
Metro’s own radio traffic shows that its people knew either from the start of the incident or very early on that the correct location was the Reston Town Center Metro Station platform and not Wiehle-Reston East. In a series of radio transmissions Metro can be heard talking with the station manager at Reston Town Center about the person collapsed on that station’s platform. These radio transmissions start at 9:07 a.m. (above).
STATter911 contacted Metro yesterday and again today about this incident but has not yet received a response.
STATter911 has not yet been able to confirm the time of the second call DPSC reported getting from Metro where they were given the correct location of the emergency. STATter911 also has calls into Fairfax County and is awaiting its response.
Sources familiar with the workings of both agencies indicate that Metro and DPSC have been looking closely at this response since yesterday.