Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Michael Huss says emergency protocol has been changed as of midnight last night. That’s due to an incident in Hazelwood where 50 Year old Curtis Mitchell died after he and his wife made several emergency phone calls over a two-day period without emergency crews ever arriving until after his death. An EMS crew became stuck on the snowy roads during the storm of February 5-6 and an operator asked Sharon Edge if she could get Mitchell to the ambulance 4 blocks away. She said "no" because he was in too much pain. The dispatcher then canceled the call.
Ron Roth, the medical director for the public safety department, says the situation was made more complicated because each call from Mitchell and Edge was considered a separate request for help and information from the previous calls to 9-1-1 was not made available to the operator taking the most recent call. There are three emergency priority categories that will be altered. They are now going to send first responders to all E-0 calls, which is the most serious category that’s usually life-threatening. Fire fighters will now be responding to E-1 calls, which are things like shortness of breath. If any call that’s categorized as E-2 does not get a response within 30 minutes, a first responder will come. Huss says the purpose of this is to get someone to a site as quickly as possible. The Hazelwood man who died originally was categorized as an E-2 call because of abdominal pain. Huss says this new system will hopefully prevent an event like this from happening again.
Also, the Allegheny County Health Department will be thoroughly reviewing the situation in Hazelwood.