9-1-1 Dispatcher Response Questioned In Woman’s Death

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

MASHPEE (CBS) – Questions are being raised about a dispatcher’s response in Mashpee to a man trying to help his girlfriend choking on a marshmallow, who later died.

During a frantic 911 call on September 4 that lasted twelve minutes, Brent McFarland can be heard screaming his girlfriend Kate’s name, describing her condition and begging for help.

“I need an ambulance, my girlfriend’s choking,” he tells the dispatcher.

Then he becomes more desperate and blowing sounds can be heard as he tries to give CPR.

“Don’t do this to me Kate, don’t do this to me Kate,” he says over and over again.

“I’m trying to give her CPR but she’s not responding,” he tells the dispatcher.  “You’re trying to give her CPR? You said she was choking on something,” said the dispatcher employed by Barnstable County.

He’s told an ambulance from Mashpee fire and rescue is on the way.  But during the 12 minutes, McFarland is heard repeatedly asking for help, and says there was little response from the dispatcher.

An attorney for the town of Mashpee says the fire chief conducted an investigation, including interviewing the dispatchers on duty that night, and has concluded “all procedures and protocols were followed”.

Training of dispatchers is done by Barnstable county, and officials declined to provide details of a dispatcher’s responsibilities.

McFarland is also heard yelling to EMT’s who he claims were delayed in their arrival because of a lack of signs on his private road, and holds the town responsible.

According to records, EMT’s were dispatched 53 seconds after the call was placed, and took six and a half minutes to arrive on a stormy night in the midst of Hurricane Earl.

McFarland declined to comment to WBZ-TV, but plans to address a meeting of town officials on Monday night.

We are withholding the last name of the victim.

More from Beth Germano
Comments

One Comment

  1. donna says:

    You missed a perfect opportunity to try to help prevent this from happening to another person. Could you not have taken the few seconds out of the newscast to teach your viewers the Heimlich maneuver?? It is a simple and potentially lifesaving procedure that even a child can perform. Maybe it would not have made a difference for this poor woman and her fiance, but maybe you could have helped save other lives in the future.

  2. disgusted says:

    {“You’re trying to give her CPR? You said she was choking on something,” said the dispatcher employed by Barnstable County.} This tells me the dispatcher is an idiot. When you are in a panic situation you don’t always remember if you do cpr or the heimlich and the dispatcher should have know that and gave the man the correct thing to do. This dispatcher should be fired! She doubted him as to what was going on. There is a lot more to this and the Mashpee officials are hiding it or just don’t want to prove they are wrong.

  3. PHIL MAHONEY says:

    ANY DISPATCHER IS ONLY AS GOOD AS HIS/HER TRAINING. THIS CALL WAS HANDLED BY THE SHERIFFS DEPT. SOUNDS LIKE A REGIONAL DISPATCHER CENTER. HOT BUTTON ISSUE IN SOME AREAS(ESSEX COUNTY). CHOKING REQUIRES HEIMLICK NOT CPR., WHERE WERE THE POLICE FIRST RESPONDERS, ALREADY OUT ON THE ROAD? DISGUSTED, YOU NOT NOT WHAT YOU SPEAK !!

  4. Val says:

    Did she ever tell him to try the Heimlich? I don’t have training and even I know that. I’m sure in his panic, he couldn’t think straight. It must have been horrifying for him.

  5. cypress23 says:

    I think some investigative energies would be well focused on looking into Rhonda Colburn, the dispatcer on that tape. What is her training and position? Was she authorized and capable to be in that role? Perhaps substaces may explain her detached and insensitive demeanor.

  6. joe says:

    they are trained by the american red cross! she must have been on drugs to not follow standard procedure! its a system on the computer that she follows for each emergency! not hard!

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