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911 Call Shows Address Mix-up Delayed Help for Dying Man for 13 Minutes

A recording of the 911 call shows dispatchers didn't realize they input the wrong address for nine minutes.

This article was originally published on Nov. 25, 2010.

About 13 minutes after Sherri Ross dialed 911, ambulance personnel arrived at her house in Wainscott, where her husband Lanny Ross was dying of a heart attack on Nov. 14.

A recording of the 911 call, obtained by East Hampton Patch, revealed East Hampton Village dispatchers didn't realize they had sent EMTs, an ambulance, and town police officers to the wrong address for over nine minutes into the call.

Dispatchers received the call at 8:14 p.m., according to their records. Within the first few seconds of the call, Sherri Ross told the dispatcher her exact location. "I have an emergency — 419 Montauk Highway, Wainscott," she said.

"What's the problem?" the dispatcher, whose name has not been released, asked her.

"I don't know, I think my husband's dying."

"You think what?" the dispatcher said.

"I think my husband's having a heart attack," Ross replied.

The dispatcher's response was: "119 Montauk Highway?" She corrects him. "419?" he said. She said, yes.

The harrowing call is without a doubt an emotional one: sounds of a man taking his last breaths, Ross' 16 year old daughter screaming in the background, and Ross, at times in hysterics, looking for an ambulance to pull into her driveway.

"Ma'am, I need you to calm down. We're going to see if we can get some information, see if we can help him, okay? What I need you to do right now is calm down, OK?," the dispatcher said.

He asked for her name, her phone number, and her husband's age, all of which she provided. "But, please, I need an ambulance. He's 51 ... he has a heart condition. He's dying," she said.

She explained, when asked, that her husband had no pulse and was gasping for breath. She continually asked the dispatcher if he sent help. "Are they coming now?" 

Kenneth Collum, the coordinator of the communications department, explained last week that the dispatcher did in fact make a mistake with inputting the address into the software system. Dispatchers sent the East Hampton Volunteer Ambulance Association to 419 Montauk Highway, East Hampton, instead of sending the Bridgehampton Fire Department ambulance to the correct address in Wainscott.

The dispatcher stayed on the line with Ross as his colleagues dispatched the East Hampton ambulance crew and called to send the police.

Two minutes into the call, East Hampton ambulance squad five, which was on duty that night, was dispatched at 8:16 p.m. Dispatchers provided them with a cross street of Spring Close Highway.

The dispatcher on the phone with Ross continued to gather information as to how long her husband might have been having symptoms of a heart attack and his medical history.

"I told you that already," she said "He's had a heart attack, he's had two stents put in. Is the ambulance coming? I need help!" Ross told her daughter to go downstairs and unlock the front door.

The dispatcher tried to get her to calm down again, to which she replied, "My husband is dying, why am I wasting my time talking to you?"

She answered more questions, including that her husband was barely breathing, while another dispatcher, a female one listening in, called East Hampton Town police dispatchers, who dispatch the officers based on the village dispatcher's information. "... we're still trying to determine whether or not he's breathing. The caller is hysterical. So, it sounds like it could be a real bad one."

Around 8:18 p.m., the dispatcher asked Ross if her driveway is marked clearly. A sign out front clearly demarks her address. He continued to question her about what led up to the onset of the heart attack. "Did you find him like this?"

Four and a half minutes have gone by since the call started. The dispatcher now asked for Ross to time her husband's breathing. Ross was worried about the ambulance finding her, but the dispatcher said, "You don't have to look for the ambulance. We need to help your husband right now, OK?"

"I don't think he's breathing," she told him. As the dispatcher questioned her more, the recording picks up the female dispatcher speaking to EMTs, who have called in for more specifics on the address. She reported to them, "PD is having trouble finding the house. We're going to try to get a description for you and put it over the air, so keep a listen, OK?"

The dispatcher on with Ross then asked her for a description of her house. Her answer is inaudible on the recording. He told her to send her someone to the end of the driveway. She sent her daughter.

According to dispatch records, the dispatcher began to instruct Ross in cardiopulmonary resuscitation about 7 minutes into the call at 8:21 p.m.

Almost simultaneously, another male dispatcher is heard broadcasting to EMTs over their frequency. "On the in-house map, it looks like it's going to be between Skimhampton and . . .," another street that is inaudible on the recording. No one yet realized, the Rosses aren't in East Hampton at all.

There is a brief discussion between the dispatchers listening in on the call about what has come up on the 911 enhancement screen, which is supposed to use the caller's phone number to confirm the address. The female dispatcher simply reported it said, "419 Montauk Highway."

Then, she said, "Capt., Capt., they can't find the house."

The dispatcher on the phone with Ross then asked, "What's the nearest corner to you?" 

Ross immediately said, "Townline and Sayre's Path."

"Oh, shit," the female dispatcher said.

The first responder, the ambulance, and town police were more than five miles from Ross' house. Dispatchers rerouted them. They also contacted another East Hampton ambulance that was on Montauk Highway headed back to East Hampton after dropping a patient off at Southampton Hospital. It proceeds to the Wainscott address at 8:24 p.m.

The dispatcher instructed Ross in chest compressions — 600 of them.

Meanwhile, dispatchers called over Bridgehampton Fire Department's frequency for "any Bridgehampton chief to call communications."

Bridgehampton First Assistant Chief Tim Doran called in and he is briefed on the situation. "East Hampton is heading to the scene. Do you want us to dispatch your crew." He said, yes.

Ross, meanwhile, can be heard counting out the compressions. Before she got to 20, the dispatcher tells her to do them a little bit faster. "Why doesn't help get here a little bit faster?"

As she counted to 24, dispatches went out to Bridgehampton, 12 minutes into the call.

When she got to about 40 counts, Ross became hysterical. It's as if she realizes there was a mistake in dispatching the call. "What's your name? I want your name," she screamed.

"You killed my husband, what's your name?" The dispatcher said he can't hear her. "I'll have your job. I'll have your ass," she screamed, though it isn't entirely clear if she screaming at him or in general.

The East Hampton ambulance, the one that had been brought into the call as it was heading back from another call, arrived on the call at 8:27 p.m.  

A Bridgehampton paramedic arrived at the house at 8:30 p.m., just as the first East Hampton ambulance and an East Hampton first responder, who had been in East Hampton looking the wrong address, arrived. Bridgehampton's ambulance arrived four minutes later.

"I was begging for help! My husband was dying!," Ross screamed at the end of the call, seemingly as help has finally arrived.

Paramedics and advanced emergency medical technicians from both departments tried to revive her husband for more than a half hour at the house. The Bridgehampton ambulance, which ultimately transported Lanny Ross, left for the hospital at 9:02 p.m.

Eleven minutes later, they arrive at the hospital, where a physician pronounced him dead.

PJ Delia November 25, 2010 at 03:32 PM
This is such a tragedy all the way around. We are human. We all make mistakes. This time it is a nightmare. If anyone is interested, Lori Newell at Living Well Yoga offers CPR classes from time to time as a public service.
Barbara Borsack November 25, 2010 at 06:27 PM
All local ambulance groups also offer CPR to commuity members - contact Town Co-ordinator Ed Michaels at the town police department or call your ambulance assoc to sign up - everyone should know CPR!
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) November 26, 2010 at 02:09 AM
Yes, and the course is only six hours and $30, I think. I took one with Tom Field. In fact, my certification is up in January, so I will probably be back.
Eastend50 January 28, 2014 at 08:56 PM
This is an old story. Not sure why it's here. First time I read the transcript. I wonder if these people just moved into that house and the E-911 database was not yet updated. Best bet is to get a cross street right up front.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) January 28, 2014 at 10:10 PM
I'm sorry. Not sure why it's on the homepage either. It is from 2010.
Alwayslocal January 28, 2014 at 11:30 PM
Well Taylor I believe everything happens for a reason and I am happy this is hopefully provolk a conversation. The systems that the dispatchers have are just as broken as they where the night they lost Lanny. This needs MUCH attention! I sure would like to hear some thoughts.
MARTIN DREW January 29, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Isn't there a PRESENT story about a Village Dispatcher that remains untold? Something to do with BLUE on BLUE workplace harrassment ? Unlawful witholding of pay - against civil service laws ! Police officer interfereing with false DMV reports .. Taylor - you know of what I speak? Why is this not being reported? EVEN I KNOW ! Time fir real NEWS no matter who it affects ... remember PATCH .. " the news organization HENRY POWDERLY is so proud of - not just a private web site " C'mon PATCH - tell the community the NEWS I SPEAK OF? Problem with our town - Politics ruling our MEDIA ... what ever happened to REAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ? This story just irked the TRUTH to need to surface .. I'll start naming names IF YOU Don't ! I'm sick of special treatment for others while the community at large gets the shaft without a second thought- TELL IT - I know YOU know -
Jan Lehre January 29, 2014 at 02:20 PM
It's so sad to see this old story featured so prominently on the site. Please move it into archives. Do the victims know these awful quotes about "having your job" are on here?
Alwayslocal January 29, 2014 at 11:48 PM
This is truely a very sad story, no questions about it. BUT, its NOT over! and the part about "his" job, he still has it. AND the "oh shit" women, is a boss now, at the same job (dispatcher). The same maps are still being used, the identicle addresses that callers have are still the same, there are people on vacation, not always sure of correct address and cross streets. THIS IS SUCH AN UNBELIEVABLE PROBLEM! This needs to be talked about, NOT forgotten about AGAIN! The dispatchers that should be ashamed of themselves, are not! The dispatchers that should be held accountable for their actions, and they are NOT! They are being treated (still 4 years after Lanny Ross's passing) like they can do no wrong! But they cant do a lot right, thats ok, whats good for one officer is not always good for the next! Its time people that know, SPEAK!
MARTIN DREW January 30, 2014 at 08:55 AM
HENRY POWDERLY contact me - MARTINDREWSHOW@gmail.com I want to make sure YOU know what I Do about the NEW VILLAGE problem that has yet to be reported involving EHVPD - co-worker harrassment - Village officials witholding pay - invrstigation by DA office - more lawsuits - YOUR JOB is to report REAL NEWS - no? Why does this CURRENT news worthy story remain untold ? It's NEWS - important and seems to be witheld from public scrutiny. POLITICS - can't control TRUTH - Officer 1 - harrased by Officer 2 who uses his badge to harrass - uses info to distort fact - while filing false reports to gov . agencies in a effort to play with anothers life and career . All under watchful eyes ? Investigations ( Call DA Spota for comment?) Violations of civil service laws ? possible other village lawsuits ? Union doing what exactly for the harrassed officer ? HENRY POWDERLY YOU WANT THE STORY AS I KNOW IT ? I think YOU already know - QUIT PLAYING POLITICS AND REPORT THE NEWS NO MATTER WHO IT AFFECTS - no one cares enough for TRUTH. When in life I've had trouble - it's put right out there - the arresting - the questioned facts - no concern for discresion - my future- my reputation - it's just a story to print ..put to bail- arraignment - return court dates- resoures needed to DEFEND .. but def no free pass SO ASK YOURSELF HENRY POWDERLY - East End Regional editor - why ? WHY IS THIS STORY I ALLUDE TO BEING WITHELD ? Journalism has a responsibility to the PUBLIC - You know - LIFES PATCH - IM CALLING DA OFFICE TODAY MARTIN DREW SHOW style - then we'll see who is playing politics - I know what's up ! WHY DON'T YOU ? DO WHAT's right REPORT IT LIKE THE NEWS IT IS - PATCH A NEWS ORG - so it's been stated... BLOW IT UP -- got the SCOOP RUN IT !your integrity is on the line .. as a news org .. start typing !!!
SOX January 30, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Alwayslocal, Sounds like serious conflict in that workplace you mentioned. Probably between co-workers and administrators. The conflict could be any number of things, lack of trust, respect, fairness, etc. This low morale will only get worse. What happens is employees will become less attentive to their job duties. You state a man needed an ambulance, and there was possibly some human error on behalf of a dispatcher that resulted in a delay. Were there problems with 911 equipment that contributed to this and administrators had prior knowledge of? Are employees having the necessary training? It's easy for administrators to use an employee for a scapegoat. If there is wrong doing on the part of some people, it should be brought to the attention of the residents.
Alwayslocal January 31, 2014 at 12:31 AM
Help Marty please. These people are abusive and corrupt and they think they are invincible, it has to be made aware to the local people who don't know! We need everything divulged, and we need it raw. We need you guys, come on, the community needs you, there are people, good people that are loosing there jobs! All because they are not puppet-like enough. For LARSEN/LONG, our community needs to see through these transparent people. Please tell your family tell your friends get this talked about, for cryin out loud! Help Marty help
MARTIN DREW January 31, 2014 at 05:35 AM
@Alwayslocal - the way to help in the future is to vote for change - a radical change - Hopefully the sleeping will awake one day . I just hope Chief Larsen - a man of my era wakes to the fact - HE is responsible to lead his dept this this mess- His leadership is at stake - as well as Mayor Rickenbach - GENTLEMEN - try the TRUTH - it will set you free - public forgives a honest man - while it despises a dishonest man. Mistakes are made in life - my record is NOT that of a angel - however it is NOT that of a idiot either - however bad a circumstance truth has set me free .. With all the press our small town has - A (d) rag - A (r) rag - A (l) rag - A (c) rag - free thinkers who know these agenda related rags -WANT TRUTH JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY to apply to us all ... the talk of the streets that navigate these obstacles of same ..is people are looking for equal treatment under the laws that govern us all- even the men of blue who are paid to protect and serve ( a nobel value ) but to duck and cover deemed to be a disgrace to the people they represent - Rise to the occasion and LEAD your way out of the meek timid men I know you NOT to be ! STAND tall and look controversy square in it's ugly face ! Don't let the actions of others tear down your decades of good service to our community - who cares - I Do. ! These men are decent people - tainted by what ? I don't want to throw CORRUPTION around like I think I know - I use this - a bad apple or two shouldn't tear down a legacy of leaders who have given their careers to public service - but Gentlemen the public expects you to engage them NOT ignore - I have trouble in front if a judge in my misgivings - IF YOU think fir one minute I ignored their inquiries I wouldn't be incarcerated by that arrogance - well Gentleman the public is your judge and WE are tiring of YOUR arrogance and WE will not allow your continued freedom to ignore us . The public wants answers - or suffer the consequence you can avoid - but speaking to your community with respect honesty and courage to accept a knock in your management style - it doesn't make you bad - it keeps you human - humility is being humble and truthful -- arrogance and deception keeps you ready to hit the unemployment line -- MARIO - are you listening too? Own up to a mistake - if you want respect - a humble man shall find his way home - when WE forgive ! Hiding behind your arrogance good luck with that - THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE try it on - see how it fits - it may be the best suit ever worn.
Alwayslocal February 07, 2014 at 10:47 PM
This is NOT ok! Who is answering these concerns? Who is making sure this NEVER happens again? Why is this going UNNOTICED? WAKE UP CITIZENS OF EAST HAMPTON! Hold these people accountable for their mistakes! We can not rest until this is seen to the end!

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