A call came in from an apartment complex to Montgomery County, Maryland Fire and Rescue at about 12:30 a.m., although the exact date is unclear. A dispatcher answers the call, but he apparently falls asleep just a few minutes into the call.
Interestingly, a second dispatcher takes over, but the first dispatch, asleep and snoring, remains on the line as the caller reports her husband is unconscious. The snoring confuses the second dispatcher, who starts to think it means that the caller's husband is having difficulty breathing.
The second dispatcher then asked the caller if her husband was breathing and if what he heard, the snoring, was the sound he was hearing. First, the woman answered “Yes,” but then seconds later said that her husband hadn’t been breathing for some time.
Although there was a delay, EMTs eventually arrived on the scene. The victim was transported to a hospital and was reportedly OK, with no ill effects from the delayed nature of the response.
In what may be alarming to some, Scott Graham, who is Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief, said that the dispatcher was 17 hours into a 24 hour shift when he fell asleep. That's correct; that 911 dispatcher was on a 24 hour shift.
Graham was quick to emphasize that in his experience, he had never before seen this type of incident. Graham said, “In my 24 years here this is the only time a dispatcher has ever fallen asleep on a 911 call."
He added that the dispatcher was only 20 minutes away from his next scheduled break, when the call came in and the incident occurred.
Although only Twenty minutes away from his rest break then, the dispatch is now on paid administrative leave, for an indeterminate length of time.
It could be a wake-up call for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.
You can listen to the 911 call below.