Attorney: The way emergency was handled was inexcusable - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: George Metaxas, 9/2/03, 9:30 p.m.

Attorney: The way emergency was handled was inexcusable

New questions about how 911 calls where handled when a man's life was on the line. The family of the victim blames poor response time for Jim Wagner's death. And now the city of Memphis, Bartlett and their respective fire departments have been put on notice, they may be facing a lawsuit.

A night of fun turned frantic at the Billiard's Club on Kirby Whitten Road when regular customer Jim Wagner suffered a heart attack. Seconds later, the 911 nightmare began.

A caller to 911 said, "Please hurry. They're doing CPR. His tongue, he's done swallowed his tongue." Wagner's friends tried to save him while waiting more than 30 minutes for an ambulance. "I don't care, get an ambulance out here, this dude's fixin' to die." Wagner DID die and now his family has hired an attorney. John C. Wagner, attorney said, "The family is still very upset and distraught over the manner in which Mr. Wagner died." And by the confusion over whether Bartlett or Memphis Firefighters should have taken the call.

The Bartlett Fire station is less than one mile from the pool hall. But the Billiard's Club is in Memphis, less than one block from the Bartlett city limits. And paramedics were sent to the wrong address at least 4 times. "It appears that there's a lot of lack of proper and adequate training on how these people are responding to these situations." And Wagner says he's amazed by what he calls a 911 dispatcher's lack of concern.

Dispatcher: We've got somebody on the way.

911 Caller: Yeah after 25 minutes.

Dispatcher: I understand, and they're on the way.

911 Caller: I hope you rest at night.

Dispatcher: I will.

"It was a disservice to the community as much as it was to Mr. Wagner." It's not clear whether Jim Wagner would have lived if help had arrived sooner, but the family's attorney says no matter what, the way his emergency was handled was inexcusable.

Action News Five tried contacting the 911 executive offices for comment on this story. Ironically their phones were our of order Tuesday afternoon.

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