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On Friday January 18 in Detroit, two 911 operators were found guilty of willful neglect of duty. They failed to take seriously the two calls of a five-year-old boy, calling because his mother had collapsed. The mother was found dead three hours after the first call.

This was a smart five-year-old. He knew to call 911. Think how he must have felt seeing his mother fall to the floor, obviously very ill. The first 911 operator hung up on him. The second 911 operator called the police instead of medical help.

There is now a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Detroit. It argues that the boy’s mother, aged 46, would have survived if 911 had sent medical help. She had an enlarged heart.

Meanwhile, the first 911 operator has been charged with a misdemeanor and may be spending up to a year in jail. She testified that she could not hear the boy on the phone. Robert, who is now seven, testified that she hung up on him, accusing him of playing games. One wonders how the operator could decide it was a prank call if she could not hear the boy.

Charges were dismissed against the second 911 operator. She was accused of disregarding protocol by calling police instead of an ambulance. The judge decided that she may have been rude but was not proven to have behaved with willful neglect.

We tend to assume that a call to 911 will bring prompt and appropriate response. If you have lost a loved one through 911 delay or non-response, please contact us for a free case evaluation.

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