MorganRants

Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Dead Man’s Parents Were Not Called in EMS Delay Case

Posted by morganwrites on April 13, 2008

(WP) – For two days, while Jeremy Miller’s body lay unclaimed in a morgue at the D.C. medical examiner’s office, his parents in Fredericksburg had no idea he was dead.

No D.C. officials called his parents, even as authorities investigated why fire and emergency department workers drove to the wrong site looking for him after a passerby called 911 to report that Miller was having a seizure on a street in Northeast. Rescue workers had initially given up looking for Miller but were sent back to the scene.

No one called his parents from Howard University hospital, where emergency workers brought his body April 2. Although Jay Miller says his son had a cellphone on him with entries for “Mom” and “Dad,” the hospital and medical examiner’s office left messages on Jeremy Miller’s home phone in Spotsylvania, where the 35-year-old computer technician lived alone. The hospital and medical examiner’s office left word that they were looking for the dead man’s family. But Jay Miller discovered the messages only when he went to his son’s house after learning from a newspaper reporter that his son had died.

“We still have not been contacted about his death,” Jay Miller said yesterday. His only contact with the city, he said, was when he called the medical examiner’s office Friday for confirmation.

It is unclear who had the responsibility for notifying family members about the death.

The fire department said it was the hospital’s responsibility.

Howard University Hospital said Miller was dead on arrival, and when the hospital was unsuccessful in reaching family members, it turned the case over to the medical examiner’s office.

The medical examiner’s office said it relies on the D.C. police to make all notifications. D.C. police said they were not notified about the Miller case or asked to contact the family.

Jay Miller wonders whether his family would have been contacted at all had he not initiated a call to the medical examiner’s office.

“What is their protocol?” Miller asked.

The day after Jeremy Miller died, the fire department called a good Samaritan to thank him for dialing 911 when he saw Miller fall to the ground, according to the 911 caller, who agreed to talk to a reporter only if his name was not published. The department told him Miller’s name and said he lived in Spotsylvania County, the caller said.

Jeremy Miller’s mother, Belva Miller, sent a few text messages to her son the afternoon of April 2, unaware that he had died, she said.

The Millers have planned a viewing of his body for today and have set up a fund in their son’s name to help the D.C. fire and EMS department buy GPS devices, in the hope that that emergency vehicles never again get lost looking for people in need.

“We know we’re not going to get our son back,” Jay Miller said. “Hopefully, this will never happen again to anyone.”

In response to the incident, the department announced yesterday that it has purchased 120 GPS devices for its emergency vehicles. The first batch has come in.

According to the D.C. fire and EMS department, the events that led to Miller’s death started at 1 p.m. at 10 G Street NE, when he fell to the ground in an apparent seizure.

D.C. rescue workers responding to the 911 call went to the wrong block looking for him, then gave up until a second report came in saying that Miller was no longer breathing. Rescue workers realized their mistake and made it to the scene, where they were joined by other emergency personnel and tried to revive him, the fire and EMS department said.

When the emergency personnel arrived, Miller was on the ground outside an office building. A security guard was performing CPR.

He was pronounced dead at Howard University Hospital, where he was taken 34 minutes 15 seconds after the first 911 call, officials said. The hospital is less than two miles away.

The city has a goal of responding to critical medical calls with an emergency medical technician and a defibrillator within 6 minutes 30 seconds of dispatch, the department said. Paramedics are to arrive within eight minutes.

In Miller’s case, it took the first responder more than 11 minutes to arrive, and more than 14 minutes went by before a technician who could perform advanced life support was on the scene.

Also, according to the fire and EMS department, the delay in first finding Miller was compounded because the 911 caller could not be reached when there was confusion about Miller’s whereabouts.

But according to the 911 transcript, the caller clearly gave a callback number with his cell phone. The caller said yesterday that he never got a call back from the dispatcher, and it wasn’t until he called again, seven minutes later, saying the situation was dire that the emergency vehicle resumed looking for Miller.

How’s that for a screw up!

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