Basic details not passed on to 911 in nearly 200 cases - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Basic details not passed on to 911 in nearly 200 cases

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A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found emergency responders unable to quickly find patients in need in four area high rises, despite a medical alarm company in place to alert 911 to the emergency.

Recorded calls and data obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team found basic information, including apartment numbers and any details on the patients, is not being passed on to 911 from a medical alarm company hired by the high rises where the residents live.

Mostly seniors and disabled residents fill the dozens of floor at the Chippington Tower and Chippington Tower II in Madison, and the Dandrige Tower and Hickory Hollow Tower in Antioch.

Emergency responders tell the Channel 4 I-Team the medical alarm company, Southeastern Sound, does not provide any details when a residents activates an emergency pull cord inside the towers.

Transcripts and data from 189 calls to the four towers since January 2012 show no basic information being passed on to 911.

One call in particular displayed the lack of information.

"Do we have a name or anything?" asked a 911 operator.

"No sir," said the operator from Southeastern Sound.

"Do we have a room number?" asked the 911 operator.

"No sir," said Southeastern Sound.

"Where exactly are they?" asked the 911 operator.

"I have no idea. They're at Hickory Hollow Towers is all I can tell you," Southeastern Sound said.

Another call has the 911 operator asking for details of the emergency and where the patient is located. The caller from Southeastern Sound has no answers, only the name of the tower where the resident lives.

"They (Southeastern Sound) often don't even know where the patient is. They (Southeastern Sound) just know to send us to that high rise," said Asst. Fire Chief Kim Lawson, Nashville Fire Department spokeswoman.

"If that call center doesn't have the information, they can't give it to us, then that's where the problem comes in," said Duane Phillips, director of the Nashville Emergency Communications Center.

Tom Claunch, vice president of operations for South Eastern Sound, said his company was hired to only to alert 911 to an emergency, not provide any other details.

"The only thing we were asked to provide is a medical activation. And that's exactly what we're providing," Claunch said.

"They (emergency responders) are showing up, and don't even have enough information to know where these people are," said chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley

"The absolute first time we heard of any of this was your communication with us yesterday. And I have immediately tried to be proactive and find out what the problems are and possible solutions," Claunch said.

Claunch said technology is available to provide additional information, but the owners of the towers did not ask for it.

The Channel 4 I-Team did speak to a number of residents and family members at the towers. None wanted to go on camera, but all were surprised about the lack of information being passed on to 911.

"Sometimes, there's nobody in the office. Then they (emergency responders) sit around with their lights and sirens on, hoping someone will come out and tell them where they need to go," Phillips said.

On May 10, the Channel 4 I-Team was rolling when emergency responders arrived at the Chippington Tower II in Madison around 1 p.m. There was no one in the office to tell firefighters where to go and a resident had to relay the information.

In one 911 call, a resident refers to no one being in the office.

"There's a lady here who has fallen, and no one's in the office," the resident said.

In another 911 call, one of Southeastern Sound's own employees can be heard about how difficult it is for them to get in touch with the offices in the high rises.

"I'm never able to reach anyone on the premises," the Southeastern Sound employee said.

An employee of the towers told the Channel 4 I-Team that in every high rise is a light up board, with the room numbers displayed on it, that blinks to tell emergency responders what room to go to.

The Channel 4 I-Team inspected a board in one of the towers and found one of the lights on, but it wasn't blinking, there was no emergency and there was no one in the office to ask about it.

"If the light is reset for any reason, either someone reset it, or it's pulled accidentally which does happen quite often, they have no way to know where to find the patient," Lawson said.

The Channel 4 I-Team repeatedly left several messages for the towers owners, Lawler Wood Housing LLC, but none of our calls were returned.

An employee of the towers also pointed out that the facilities are independent living, so there is no guarantee that someone will respond on site if there is an emergency.

The Channel 4 I-Team also wanted to see if other medical alarm companies were giving out more specific information. We reviewed their calls to 911 and found several companies providing details, while another company did not.

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