Snow or no snow, there is no excuse for this tragic negligence. What if you dialed 911 repeatedly for help for your sick boyfriend, and nobody came? That’s what happened to Sharon Edge in Pittsburgh, and now her loved one is dead.
In a story very well reported by the Associated Press, 50-year-old Curtis Mitchell, a former steel worker, died despite the desperate efforts of Edge to save him. During a big Feb. 6 snowstorm, Mitchell got bad stomach pains, and Edge called 911 for help.
During her first call, Edge was told that help was coming. After 10 callbacks to 911, and 30 hours later, Mitchell died in his cold apartment, where the storm had knocked out the power.
Mitchell had previously suffered from pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, and had been hospitalized for treatment in January.
In Pittsburgh, officials are investigating what went wrong in Mitchell’s case. They are also looking to make changes to emergency services so this kind of fatality never happens again.
The storm had left two feet of snow in Pittsburgh. But two times, ambulances were within walking distance of Mitchell’s home, a quarter of a mile away, but they couldn’t drive their vehicle over a bridge to reach him. The notion of getting out of the ambulance to fetching their patient didn’t seem to occur to them.
AP quotes Pittsburgh’s public safety director as saying they failed Mitchell. There’s an understatement for you. The problem on pushing a program like 911 calls like we have, is that when it fails, there really is no backup. This is a life or death program and there is just no room for human or computer error. It must work, each and every time.