Delay in Care

Confusion about victim's location and idle defibrillator delay care

May 10, 2001

According to reports in The Washington Post, deficiencies in the emergency medical response system in the District of Columbia resulted in delayed care for a 69-year-old woman who suffered cardiac arrest while visiting the FDR Memorial on May 5th. US Park Police called 911 and 13 minutes later, firefighters arrived at the scene. While they did carry a defibrillator, none of them were qualified to use it. As an advanced life support unit circled the area trying to find the victim's exact location, a park police officer riding by on his motorcycle, used the firefighters' defibrillator, shocked the woman's heart twice and restored her pulse. She was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital and is listed in fair condition.

As a result of the incident, the District's 911 system has been updated to include the addresses of capitol monuments. For more information, click here.