LATEST UPDATE

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the director of Fulton County’s 911 center has been removed after an operator’s mishandling of a call left a dying woman without help for more than 25 minutes. Alfred “Rocky” Moore will still head the county’s Emergency Management Agency. He will be replaced at the emergency communications center by his second in command, Crystal Williams. Stay tuned, there’s more to come in this tragic case.

Atlanta resident Darlene Dukes died waiting for help that was delayed 25 minutes because a 911 operator sent emergency crews to the wrong address. Fulton county’s 911 director Alfred “Rocky” Moore said that the operator, whose name has not been released, has been fired. The operator dispatched crews to Wells Street in Atlanta when the woman’s home was on Wales Street in Johns Creek, north of Atlanta. Moore said that Dukes, 39, was in distress due to a heart attack. The bottom line is that the operator should have noticed because the call came from a cell tower in North Fulton and not Atlanta.

I am sure that this operator, from the mere fact that he or she stayed on the telephone with the woman for the whole time, was distraught. I hate to be harsh, but the mistake is one that should not have happened. Operators are trained to listen to callers in distress but also to focus on where cell calls come from. The operator should have recognized the discrepancy and asked questions. This is truly a sad situation.

The bigger issue is that this case underscores one of many areas of potential conflict for Fulton as new cities spring up and services have to adjust. Two years ago, Fulton was pushing the consolidation of all 911 services among the county and its cities, but they could not get enough jurisdictions to agree. The sad reality is that this bickering affects the citizens of Atlanta, as evidenced from the death of Darlene Dukes.