CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A local woman calls 911 after her husband collapses.
Paramedics parked a minute away from their home yet no help arrives. Why did this happen?
A local woman watched her husband die, as they waited and waited for a rescue unit, parked only a block away.
What went wrong and why isn't anyone owning up to what may have been a fatal mistake?
"He said I can't breathe. I'm having trouble breathing," Donna Woolacott.
Moments later, Donna Woolacott's husband John fell to the bedroom floor of their Maple Hts. home.
"As soon as i saw him collapse I ran to the phone."
"911. What's your emergency," 911 dispatcher.
"My husband's having trouble breathing."
"OK, what's your location," 911 dispatcher.
"15903 Maplewood Avenue," Donna Woolacott.
But there is hope because 15903 Maplewood, is just down the street, and around the corner from Maple Hts. fire station #2.
In fact, 19 Action News measured the distance between the Woolacott home and the fire station and by our calculations it's less than 1800 feet separate the two. About a five minute walk. A minute by car.
So why did it take a rescue unit nearly ten minutes to get to a dying John Woolacott?
Because at the time of Woolacott's cardiac arrest, both Maple Hts. ambulances were out on other calls. Fortunately, a first responder, staffed with trained fire paramedics, was sitting at the station #2, ready for action.
Brian Andreas was stocking shelves at a local Giant Eagle only months earlier. He was one of two 911 dispatchers on duty when the call came in. But instead of dispatching the 1st responder sitting idle at Engine 2, Andreas calls Garfield Hts., or so he thinks.
"Yea, this is Maple Hts. can we possibly borrow a squad from you?, Andreas.
But six minutes after the original call, no sign of any rescue unit.
So a desperate Donna Woolacott calls again.
"Hello, I'm still waiting for an ambulance. Are they coming?," Donna.
"Yes ma'am, we do have an ambulance in route," dispatcher.
But after six minutes still no ambulances are rolling.
Finally, dispatcher Andreas does what he should have done in the first place. Call the 1st responder just a block away.
"We need Engine 2 to respond to Maplewood Ave. It's for a female reporting that her husband is having a hard time breathing," Andreas.
But by the time fire rescue arrives, nearly ten minutes have ticked away. Hope is quickly fading for John Woolacott.
"Let Garfield know this is a full cardiac arrest."
But when dispatcher Andreas calls Garfield back to check on the status of that ambulance, he discovers he made a major mistake. He never called Garfield in the first place.
"Garfield Hts. Fire Department," Garfield Heights.
"This is Maple Hts., we're just calling to let you know there's going to be a full arrest on that mutual aid," Andreas.
"When did you call for mutual aid?," Garfield Heights.
Yes, Andreas mistakenly called Warrensville Hts., not Garfield Hts,. who had no idea they were supposed to be sending an ambulance.
"How is it that you called the wrong department?," Investigator Carl Monday.
"Sir, I can't comment," Andreas.
"What do you have to say to the family who lost their loved one because you called the wrong department?," Investigator Carl Monday.
"I can't speak to you," Andreas.
We played the 911 dispatch recording for Donna Woolacott and her brother John Levanduski.
"That's unbelievable. There could have been a whole different outcome on this," John Levanduski.
That ambulance that was dispatched from Warrensville? finally made it to Maplewood Avenue 19 minutes later.
"Makes me angry. Not knowing. We don't know if he could have made it," Donna Woolacott.
Gerald Burma is the top cardiologist at Parma Community Hospital. He has a pretty good idea.
"If there's no CPR, the golden window is about 3-4 minutes before irreversible brain damage begins to happen," Dr. Gerald Burma.
Remember, it took almost ten minutes to get to John Woolacott.
He was dead on arrival at Marymount Hospital.
Back at Maple Hts. city hall you'd think heads would have rolled.
"Did you do an investigation?"
"Sure we did?," Mayor Jeff Lansky.
But Maple Hts. Mayor Jeff Lansky says no one did anything wrong and no one was disciplined. Including dispatcher Andreas.
"Mayor, why don't you feel this warrants an independent investigation by somebody else?"
"I don't think it warrants an independent investigation," Investigator Carl Monday.
At the city of Maple Hts. the death of John Woolacott is a closed case.
"End result is I don't have a husband, my kids don't have a father, my grand kids will never be able to be with him.," Donna Woolacott.
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