911 dispatcher sends ambulance to wrong DC address

WASHINGTON — A 2-year-old D.C. boy suffering an asthma attack last weekend waited 20 minutes for an ambulance that was dispatched to the wrong address, and 911 dispatchers are now claiming responsibility for the mix up.

After her son was suddenly hit with an asthma attack Saturday afternoon, Paulette Liverpool called 911 for an ambulance.

“It was from a woman who complained her child was having trouble breathing. That is a potentially a very serious call,” said Alan Etter with the D.C. Office of Unified Communications, which oversees emergency response.

But the dispatcher put in the address as Galveston Place, instead of Galveston Street, Etter said.

“That is what led to the confusion and that is what led to the fire department being sent to the incorrect address,” he said.

As Fox5 first reported, the woman took her son to the hospital after waiting 20 minutes. The boy is now doing OK.

The dispatcher broke procedures twice — by not staying on the line until help arrived and because they did not have the correct address, dispatchers could not redirect first responders to the patient they could not find, Etter said.

When Liverpool called initially, Etter said, she gave a callback number she said might not be correct, and the dispatch center was unable to reach her to reconnect.

“Neither of those procedures were followed in this case … We are taking the appropriate steps to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” Etter said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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