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March 22, 2016

Man suffering heart attack calls off ambulance after long wait

POPE COUNTY, Ark. — An Arkansas woman called off an ambulance after it took too long to respond to her father who was having a heart attack. reported Dana Wewer's 82-year-old father started feeling chest pains and her mother called Pope County 911. She requested the ambulance not turn on its lights and sirens on because she did not want to draw attention to the fact they were leaving their home out of fear of robbery.

"It's probably not that urgent. It might be, I don't know," Wewer's mother said to a dispatcher.

"OK, well, we'll get him out there without the lights and whistles and bells," the dispatcher said.

After getting the call about the heart attack, Wewer drove 25 minutes to her parents' house. When she got there, the ambulance still had not arrived. After waiting 10 more minutes, Wewer decided to drive her father to the hospital.

"My father had bypass surgery, so I thought the longer we waited, the more damage could happen," she said.

Jim Campbell, who works with Pope County 911, said the request for no lights and sirens caused the call to be labeled "non-emergency."

"Whether you enjoy lights and sirens or not, sometime it's necessary in order to save a life," Campbell said.

Additionally, there was confusion about the address and the ambulance experienced a five-minute delay when it encountered a train.

Campbell said had the call been classified as an "emergency," the EMS providers would have taken a different route to avoid the train tracks.