911 Dispatcher Suspended After Falling Asleep on the Job

By Suzan Clarke

May 23, 2012 6:30am

A Maryland 911 dispatcher who fell asleep while talking to a woman whose husband was having trouble breathing has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.

The dispatcher was supposed to have sent an ambulance to the woman, but he fell asleep and began snoring, according to a report by NBC 4 in Washington, D.C., which obtained a recording of the call.

The woman can be heard on the recording saying “Hello?” “Hello?” “Hello?” There is no reply.

The call had initially been taken by someone who had transferred it to the dispatcher, according to established procedure. When it became clear that the dispatcher was not responding, the original call-taker jumped in to provide assistance.

As he told the woman what to do to help her husband, the dispatcher’s snoring can clearly be heard in the background. The second dispatcher was confused, thinking the woman’s husband was snoring.

About four minutes into the call, the snoring dispatcher woke up and asked the woman for her address.

The dispatcher is an experienced firefighter who was 17 hours into a 24-hour overtime shift, Montgomery County Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham told NBC 4.

The caller’s husband was taken to a hospital and did not suffer “adverse effects as a result of the call,” according to NBC 4.

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