WASHINGTON — A family is grieving and a city agency is releasing a timeline regarding the death of an infant after a dispatch operator sent help to the wrong address.
The tragic events unfolded on July 3 after Shartise Schatzman and Dalante Chase called emergency services needing help for their infant daughter Sevyn Schatzman-Chase at 2:26 a.m.
According to the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), the person who called asked that help be sent to the 2100 block of Savannah Terrace in Southeast for an infant experiencing cardiac arrest.
OUC says the dispatcher who took the call verbally verified the address twice before instructing the caller on how to give the child CPR until first responders could arrive.
Shartise Schatzman and Dalante Chase did everything they could to try to save their daughter as they waited for more help to arrive.
"I was like, she's not breathing, do something, do something, do something," Schatzman said.
However, OUC says the dispatcher recorded the address incorrectly in the system as the 2100 block of Savannah Street in Southeast. The address was corrected at 2:34 a.m. in the notes section, but the dispatcher did not update the location field in the dispatch system, causing first responders to go to the wrong address.
First responders were eventually able to find the correct address and arrived to help around 2:37 a.m., more than 10 minutes after the 911 call was first received.
“I felt like nobody communicated right that night," Schatzman said.
OUC investigated the incident, reviewing first responder radio traffic, dispatching system records, audio recordings, GPS data and internal OUC personnel interviews to create a timeline.
The agency reports the dispatcher started providing CPR instructions within 59 seconds of receiving the call and continued to do so until medical units arrived.
"During cardiac arrest calls, the most important step in the chain of survival is to provide CPR instructions for the caller to perform until FEMS arrives on the scene," OUC said in a statement to WUSA9.
OUC claims the dispatch system automatically chose three available Fire and EMS units to respond to the call. All units were reportedly dispatched within 90 seconds of the call. Engine 32 was dispatched from less than half a mile away, Medic 25 was dispatched from 1.7 miles away and EMS was dispatched just over two miles away.
Eight minutes after the 911 call was placed, Engine 32 arrived at the incorrect address. OUC says Medic 25 went directly to the correct address, arriving around 2:36 a.m.
"I know I said my address multiple times, and I know I gave them the right address," Schatzman said.
When units did arrive, Sevyn was taken to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead.
"I just want justice for my daughter, because I feel like if they had got here on time, she'd still be here," Schatzman said.
She said she first learned about the miscommunication at the Office of Unified Command from former WUSA9 journalist Dave Statter who also operates the website, Statter911.com.
“In three years, there have been eight deaths where there were delays in sending fire and EMS to help these people,” he said. “We don't know exactly why these people died. We can't say they would have lived if they got there sooner. But what is happening is fire and EMS and even police are being hampered when 911 delays sending them.”
In May, 54-year-old Joyce Robertson passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest. The ambulance that was supposed to arrive with help was sent to the wrong address.
“She told me hold on the line until they get here,” Joyce's mother Patricia Robertson said.
Turns out, while Robertson waited more than 11 minutes for help the ambulance was sent to the wrong home. By the time medics got there – it was too late.
In March, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reappointed Karima Holmes, a controversial 911 call center director, a year after that Holmes left the call center that's repeatedly sent rescue crews to the wrong locations.
Statter said he believes the problems plaguing DC's Office of Unified Command are systemic.
"These mistakes can cost lives," he said. "Seconds count. In an emergency, like this when you're in cardiac arrest, seconds count and you can't afford to lose minutes."
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