A Florida 911 dispatcher has been suspended for five days after it was revealed that she was distracted by her cell phone while a dispatcher trainee sent an EMS crew to the incorrect location to help a man suffering from a heart attack. The man died while waiting for the EMS crew to arrive.
The suspended dispatcher, Shauna Justice, was supervising a trainee dispatcher on the day 58-year-old Bob Hill died of a heart attack.
Hill’s friends called 911 after he collapsed during a racquet ball game at the Nova Community Center in Orman Beach, Fla. The callers mistakenly told the dispatcher trainee that they were at “Ormand Rec Center.”
The trainee struggled to identify the true location of the victim, and EMS crews spent 15 minutes searching for the victim. An internal investigation revealed that Justice failed to properly supervise the trainee as he struggled to locate the victim’s location.
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Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson spoke to local media about the dispatcher's mistake.
“No one answered the door when we tried to reach Certified Training Officer Shauna Justice, but she admitted her mistake,” Johnson said. “We messed up. She was very remorseful about what happened, very caring about it. She admitted to what her mistake was.”
Sheriff Johnson told reporters that it is unclear whether Hill would have survived his heart attack even if the EMS crew arrived earlier. However, he reiterated that her failure to properly supervise was “a serious mistake” that “could have been avoided.”
Here is video of Justice on her cell phone during the dispatch call: