Miami Beach

Miami Beach dispatcher on delayed rescue call may be fired

A Miami Beach dispatcher took 14 minutes to send help to a dying man’s home.

Miami Beach Fire Rescue took another 10 minutes to arrive on scene, and the 65-year old man died.

Now, the dispatcher who handled the call may be out of a job.

The Miami Beach Police Department, which manages the city’s 911 center, has recommended that veteran dispatcher Damian Janee be fired. An investigation revealed that he took 14 minutes to dispatch the call, Deputy Chief Mark Overton said.

“Most egregious is that he then went in and tried to alter the records ... to try to hide the mistake that he had made,” Overton said.

The 911 call came in on March 5 from a woman who found her husband had fallen out of bed. The woman told the dispatcher that her husband was short of breath but was conscious and alert.

“Rescue is on the way to help you,” Janee told the woman, according to the 911 call released by police.

The call came in at 9:10 a.m. and was transferred to Janee two minutes later. He didn’t dispatch the call until 9:26 a.m. but wrote in the department’s computer system that rescue was on its way at 9:13 a.m.

Rescue finally arrived at 9:36 a.m. Five minutes later, the man was pronounced dead.

Because of union rules, Janee will go to a hearing before a final decision is made to fire him or keep him on the job.

He has run into trouble before. Janee has been disciplined for sending emergency police help to the wrong place, and for leaving the 911 line open for 37 minutes while he surfed the Web, making the line unavailable for incoming calls. He left the line open another time for more than 16 minutes. Another time, he failed to dispatch a call about a building fire for four minutes.

An investigation is still ongoing, Overton said.

Still unanswered is why it took Miami Beach Fire Rescue 10 minutes to respond to the call for help at the Venetian Islands home, just two miles away from the nearest fire station.

The widow of the man who died sent out an email to a group of homeowner association members, lamenting the long response time. She said that fire rescue arrived with an EKG machine that didn’t work, and said that rescue workers told her their delayed response was caused by a raised bridge.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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