CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating what’s being done to protect you after a series of delays with local 911 calls and people dying.
We recently revealed three cases of people dying after calls for help. So, we’re asking, what about the next time you dial 911? Is anything being done to prevent the same problems?
I-TEAM: Uncovering another death after another 911 mix-up
The family of Dennis Derbin said something must be done.
”We don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I’m trying to make it my resolution, my New Year’s resolution to get it changed,” Dawn Derbin said.
I-TEAM: Family demands answers after confusion during 911 call leads to delayed response
Late last year, Dennis Derbin died after a medical emergency. He lived in the only house on his side of the street considered Brooklyn Heights. Communications center recordings show a dispatcher sent help from the next town, not from Brooklyn Heights.
Dispatch recordings show in 2017, Betty Morrison died after she called 911 for an asthma attack. That case just came to light in a lawsuit. The suit said and the recordings indicate rescue crews in Warrensville Heights first went to the wrong house.
Last year, Vince Frusteri died after a medical emergency. His family called 911. No one answered at a Cuyahoga County communications center. The county admitted equipment failed. Dispatchers took nearly an hour and a half to transfer 911 calls to working lines.
I-Team: New backups after Cuyahoga County 911 fails and man dies
The I-Team found no single set of rules or guidelines for 911 centers. A state agency in Columbus simply makes sure your town has emergency dispatching. Cuyahoga County said it has a countywide 911 plan, but no direct control over the people answering your calls in your most desperate moments.
Cuyahoga County Chief of Special Operations Brandy Carney told us the county has, “23 dispatch centers, 59 municipalities, they all have their own policies and procedures.”
The county said it put in new back-ups in its own call center since the death of Frusteri, but it can’t force change at other 911 centers. Still, we pressed with questions after the delays we’ve exposed.
Now, the county said it will have a committee come up with suggestions to improve the system.
“We’ll discuss recommendations… And we’ll send it out to all the different dispatch centers and encourage them. Doesn’t mean they have to… But encourage them,” Carney said.
“It is a matter of life and death. And we see that when we drop the ball,” Ohio State Sen. Kenny Yuko
Yuko pledged to look into whether dispatching centers need more help from the state, especially the centers handling the most calls.
“Have we multiplied the equipment? Have we multiplied the manpower? If we haven’t, is it because of insufficient funding?” Yuko said.
Back to the Dennis Derbin case, recordings show confusion over the address. In an email to the I-Team, Chagrin Valley Dispatch first blamed the mix-up on a computerized address guide. Now, Chagrin Valley Dispatch told us that guide has been updated.
In the Morrison case, the city of Warrensville Heights is not commenting.
Dawn Derbin plans to keep pushing for action.
“I know if this happened to me or my mom or any resident, my dad would be fighting,” she said.
Three delays. Three deaths. And, a new push to make sure there’s not one more.