Shocking audio recordings reveal a 911 dispatcher in Maryland snoring as a frantic woman pleads for help. WRC-TV's Tisha Thompson reports.
An emergency dispatcher in Montgomery County, Md. was put on administrative leave and an inquiry launched after being recorded snoring during a woman’s desperate 911 call, according to a report by NBCWashington.com.
Segments of the April 4 recording can be heard in the report broadcast on Tuesday, in which a panicky woman calls to report that her husband is having trouble breathing.
The initial 911 operator transfers her to a dispatcher, whose job it is to send an ambulance. But after the transfer, the woman is heard saying, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" and getting only silence in return.
The snoring sound of the dispatcher comes through just as the 911 operator contacts a second dispatcher, and it becomes louder as that dispatcher talks the woman through the emergency and gets her address.
Just after the panicked woman says, "Now he's all blue," the snore erupts again, and several more times as the second dispatcher speaks to her.
NBCWashington.com describes part of the exchange:
2nd Dispatcher: "Put one hand on his forehand, the other hand underneath his neck and tilt his head back."
Sleeping Dispatcher: ((Snore))
Caller: "Uh huh."
In the recording, the second dispatcher repeatedly asked if the woman’s husband was making the noise, according to NBCWashington.com.
Montgomery County Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham confirmed to the reporters that the sound was in fact coming from the original dispatcher.
"The employee was immediately removed from the floor by his supervisor that night and placed on administrative leave with pay pending the inquiry,” Graham told NBCWashington.com.
In spite of the sleeping employee, the ambulance dispatch was delayed only 30 to 38 seconds, Graham told msnbc.com.
The man who was having trouble breathing was taken to a hospital and recovered, he said.
Firefighters at the call center work a similar schedule to firefighters in the field in Montgomery county, Graham said — working 24 hours, which includes a six-hour rest period, followed by 48 hours off.
Graham said the dispatcher who fell asleep was 17 hours into a 24-hour shift, or less than an hour from a rest when this incident occured.
Most dispatchers around the country work 10- to 12-hour shifts, he said, but the shift adopted in Montgomery has helped attract and retain personnel who prefer the large blocks of time between shifts.
This was the first time a dispatcher had fallen asleep on the job in his 24 years on the job, Graham told msnbc.com.
"We handle 120,000 calls a year and this was an isolated incident," he said. "I’m not making light of it. It’s very embarrassing. But this is a great reminder to everyone in our department, we have to take care of each other, we have to be vigilant."
The call center has been operating out of a temporary facility during the renovation of a permanent facility, which is being redesigned so that supervisors can see all the dispatchers who are working at any given time, Graham said.
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