Family of man who died of heart attack glad to see problems with 911 dispatch addressed

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SALT LAKE COUNTY - It's a solution decades in the making, and a problem sparked by cell phones.

"This is a huge deal," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. "This has been in the works for 20 years."

The deal Mayor McAdams speaks of is a software program that will be installed for all dispatch and first responders within the next 18 months.

"It will allow everyone to communicate on the same system," said John Morgan, Director of the Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center.

Morgan explains that in the past, his dispatch center would get emergency 911 calls from cities on the other side of the county, calls best suited for another dispatch center.

“You can take the radio signals and direct them to some degree," Morgan said. "But when you look at all the irregular borders our cities have, you can’t make a radio signal follow that border. So, it could go to the right dispatch center or the opposite one."

That's a problem Lisa Parker and her husband Kent know all too well. In January of 2014, Kent called 911 dispatchers complaining of chest pain.

However, he was connected with VECC across town because his cell phone hit that tower. By the time his call was transferred multiple times, he decided he was feeling better and hung up. However, later in the evening, he passed away from a heart attack.

"He had four kids," a tearful Lisa Parker said. "I miss him so much, love him so much, it’s so sad.”

Parker said she was thrilled to hear about the new system that will allow dispatch centers to stay on the line, instead of transferring calls. The system will allow different call centers to share information without hanging up and starting over.

She says that's a vast improvement, and one that's been a long time coming.

"Nobody should have to go through what we went through," she said. "The system failed, it failed and now he’s gone.”


  • David Thelen

    Other ideas to enhance 911-service could be consider, don’t know if it is doable or not.
    * 911 ought to have Text messaging service so homeowners will not have to talk and give the intruder a hint where they are hiding. If someone is in the process of breaking in the text message 911-service could be lets say 912, a text menus will show up in the person’s phone, Press 1 if someone is breaking in, press 2 if there is a crime in progress, press 3 if there is a fire, press 4 if it is an medical emergency, press 5 for all other events.
    * The first 2 types of text emergencies, the caller’s emergency text will be routed to police 911 operators screen, for a fire, the caller will be routed to an firefighting 911 operator, for a medical emergency, the caller will be connected to an on call emergency care nurse. For all other callers, they will be connected to the non-emergency operator.
    * Include 911-facebook accounts will help with emergency care. 911-facebook accounts information will be filled out by individuals on a volunteer basis should be part of 911. If you want to call for an emergency, and you want extra information to show up on the 911-screen based on caller ID. Maybe 913 could be used for this purpose. No contact order information, health risks like the caller has a history of falls, disabled, diabetic, etc. will notify emergency personnel of such facts. This information will be routed to the on call emergency care nurse so to help the caller until EMTs show up.
    * If there is a suspicious car or person in the neighborhood, and the homeowner do not know if whether it pose as a danger or not, they would use a 911-facebook-APP to forward pictures if so desired.
    * Have enhanced 911-service to contact a neighbor or relative as well. In case of a break in or the smoke alarm is being activated, a person, perhaps the neighborhood watch captain, would be contacted. He/she will be equipped with a fire extinguisher and have the training to know what to do in case for these 2 incidences takes place until help does arrive.
    * Utilize neighborhood security cameras in any of these 911 activated situations. It would forward timely needed information to EMTs.

    • Freddy

      I’ve always thought it would be good to have a state-wide (and eventually nation-wide) number for non-emergency contact. I’ve had to call 911 in a city I was passing through before to get a police officer to the scene of an accident, but there were no major injuries. I had no idea how to reach a non-emergency line in that situation and felt bad for having to tie up a 911 operator, but it was the only way i could think to get in touch with someone. That was before smart phones, so it might not be so much of an issue, but I bet it would cut down on non-emergency calls to 911 if we had a non-emergency number that was common and easy to remember.

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