Dispatcher Fired Over Missed 911 Calls

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Calls For Medical Help Went Unanswered For Over 30 Minutes

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

A Mills County 911 dispatcher has been fired after failing to answer medical-related emergency calls for more than 30 minutes.

Mills County Communications Director Tom Ling confirmed that a dispatcher, whose name has not been released, was terminated after an Oct. 6 incident.

Ling said the dispatch center began receiving the unanswered calls around 4:15 a.m. The calls went unanswered for more than 30 minutes. Ling said the caller, who he declined to name, eventually tried the Pottawattamie County Communications Center. After repeated attempts by Pottawattamie County dispatchers to reach Mills County, contact was made with a Mills County Sheriff’s Deputy who was finally able to reach the Mills County dispatcher.

At 4:47 a.m., a page went out from the Mills County Communication Center to Glenwood Fire and Rescue for a 73-year-old female complaining of chest pain at 56234 221 St., north of Glenwood.

Approximately five minutes later Glenwood rescue arrived on the scene.

Butch Fidler, chief of the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department, said neither he nor his crew were aware of any dispatch problems until arriving on the scene.

Joan M. Jacobsen is listed as a trustee of the home at 56234 221 St., according to the Mills County Assessors Office. Attempts to reach Jacobsen for comment were unsuccessful.

Fidler confirmed the 73-year old female was transported by Glenwood rescue to Jennie Edmundson Hospital.

Ling declined to give a reason

why the dispatcher did not answer.

“I can tell you for whatever reason she did not answer the call, it was investigated and help was sent to the people. Because of her actions and a result of the investigation, she was terminated,” said Ling, who has served as communications center director since November 2008.

Ling called the Oct. 6 incident “isolated” and he plans no immediate changes in staffing or oversight policies for the midnight shift. However, Ling did say he is in the preliminary phases of asking the county to increase the communication center’s staffing budget to have two dispatchers on duty at all times.

Ling has already begun the process of hiring a new dispatcher. The communications center typically staffs seven employees, but with the termination and a recent resignation, the office is staffed by only five dispatchers. Ling said he hopes to have the other two dispatcher positions filled by mid-November.