Pittsburgh City officials have reviewed how 9-1-1 calls were handled when a man died at his home while waiting for an ambulance during a heavy snow storm that began February 5th. 50 year old Curtis Mitchell of Hazelwood died two days later. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner has yet to release a cause of death because toxicology tests from his autopsy are still pending. City officials say dispatchers handled more emergency calls than normal during the storm and are trying to determine whether communication problems along with poor road conditions contributed to the delayed response by paramedics.
The city of Pittsburgh issued a statement today under the names of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Emergency Medical Services Chief Robert McCaughan expressing their "deepest condolences to the family in the loss of their loved one."
The statement went on to say they are trying to identify areas of potential improvement and are dedicated to making the changes that might be necessary to improve the delivery of service.
Dr. Ron Roth, Medical Director of the city's Department of Public Safety and the County's Emergency Operations Center, reviewed 4 calls made to 9-1-1 from a home at 5161 Chaplain Way between 2:09 a.m. Saturday February 6 and 7:56 a.m. February 7.
Roth says the first two calls were processed as medium priority for abdominal pain. He says the third call was upgraded after additional information was received. The review indicates a more than 9 hour delay from the time of the third call and the dispatch of an EMS crew. Dr. Roth says unfortunately "what appeared to be underappreciated by some parties is the fact that this was the third request for service by the same person for the same complaint. In addition, most if not all, were unaware of the details of the previous call."
The review say on three separate calls, EMS is dispatched to 5161 Chaplain Way. Each time the paramedics are told to cancel by the Emergency Operating Center. The paramedics were not privy to the conversations between the operators and the callers or the details from previous events. "It was reasonable to ask the caller to walk to the ambulance (which was stuck in the snow) on the first call. It is not reasonable to ask the caller to walk to the truck on subsequent calls after he refused on the first call."