Rescuers Delayed By Confusion Between Alexandria, Fairfax
June 14, 2005
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The death of a local man has prompted an investigation into how 911 emergency calls are handled in a section of northern Virginia.
The confusion centers on a building in the 5900 block of Fairington Avenue. That’s in Fairfax County, and borders the city of Alexandria.
On Monday, a worker in the building called 911 saying his co-worker needed medical attention.
The call initially went to the Alexandria 911 call center.
Following proper procedures, Alexandria dispatchers transferred the call to Fairfax County. However, dispatchers there did not immediately send an ambulance.
By the time an ambulance did arrive at the building, the man was dead.
Fairfax County officials said there was a breakdown in communication on their part, and now Fairfax County police and the city of Alexandria have opened investigations into the incident.
Here is a written statement issued Tuesday by the Alexandria Fire Department:
The Alexandria Fire Chief has called for a review of inter-governmental emergency response procedures and a review of the way the telephone company routes 911 calls following an incident which occurred on Monday, June 13. Fairfax County officials are conducting their own review of the way county staff responded.
At 8:03 am Monday, the Alexandria Fire Department received a 911 call from a man who reported that a co-worker was in medical distress. The address – 5910 Farrington Avenue – is actually located in Fairfax County. Following standard procedures, an Alexandria dispatcher transferred the call to the Fairfax County 911 center and stayed on the line with the caller. The caller apparently hung up so the Alexandria dispatcher relayed the address and patient information directly to the Fairfax County 911 center.
At 8:09 am the same person called 911 again to request assistance. The telephone company again routed the call to the Alexandria 911 call center, which immediately transferred it to the Fairfax 911 center, in accordance with established protocols. At 8:12 am, Fairfax tried to give the call back to Alexandria because the Fairfax dispatcher thought the call was in Alexandria.. Immediately upon realizing that Fairfax was not responding to this call, Alexandria dispatched a rescue team to the caller’s address which arrived at 8:17 am. Bystanders were administering CPR when the rescue team arrived. The patient was pronounced dead at Inova Alexandria Hospital. At 8:28 am, a Fairfax County 911 dispatcher called Alexandria and asked them to respond to the same Farrington Avenue address for the same incident.
Following the incident, Alexandria Fire Communications officials requested that Verizon correct the telephone data base to route 911 calls originating in Fairfax County to the Fairfax County 911 center. Alexandria is also reviewing its official operating procedures for transferring calls or responding to incidents which originate in neighboring jurisdictions.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the patient’s family.