Dispatchers didn’t send help to choking toddler from closest station

WASHINGTON — A D.C. boy choked on Friday and the response to the incident is being called into question after dispatchers failed to send help from the closest station.

A boy choked on a grape at his home in Northwest and stopped breathing Friday. His 9-year-old sister called 911, but no one picked up, Fox 5 reports.

A house guest got through to 911 a few minutes later and first responders showed up 7 minutes after the first call.

The 911 dispatcher sent help from a station one mile away on Connecticut Avenue, however, a D.C.

Fire and EMS paramedic was just three blocks away and on-duty in a station on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest, Fox 5 reports.

Although the reasons for the confusion are still unclear, it may have had something to do with new technology firefighters use to keep track of trucks, engines and ambulances.

Call handling times a big problem (Dave Statter, longtime D.C. reporter and fire service blogger)

Ed Smith, the president of the Firefighters Union, spoke to Fox 5 last month about his frustrations with the new system.

“We were part of a working dispatch group at [the Office of Unified Communications] and we voiced out concerns at the time this was a recipe for disaster,” Smith told Fox 5. “It is a disaster, yeah,”

A spokesman for the Office of Unified Communications says only one call came from the house that the incident occurred. Also, the spokesman says the help came from a station farther away because dispatchers sent the closest unit available that was logged on with a paramedic, according to Fox 5.

The boy is in intensive care at Georgetown University Hospital and Fox 5 reports he is fighting for his life.

Watch Fox 5’s report:


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