Emergency call takers neglected their duties when it took them an hour to dispatch crews to a car crash which resulted in the death of a man, a report from Saskatoon police says.
The report, signed by police chief Clive Weighill, is in Tuesday’s Board of Police Commissioners agenda.
“The response to the call was not of the standard expected by the citizens of Saskatoon,” Weighill wrote in the report. “The three call takers involved have all been found to be in Neglect of Duty, which is a major offence under the Saskatchewan Police Act Discipline Regulations … They have received written reprimands.”
On Aug. 28 just before 5:19 a.m., George Buxton, 62, suffered a medical emergency while driving on 20th Street near the intersection with Avenue I South. He crashed into a parked car outside Nestor’s Community Bakery.
A staff member, who owned the car, called 911 to report the accident and said Buxton was unconscious. When the person couldn’t say whether an ambulance was needed, the call taker classified the crash as a Motor Vehicle Accident without injuries, Priority 4, which meant a police car assigned to that area would respond when it was available.
The report said the same person called 911 again 15 minutes later and spoke with a different call taker who assured them the complainant that police would arrive as soon as possible.
Other people called at at 5:40 a.m. and 6 a.m. with the 6 a.m. call being made to the non-emergency line at the station.
The person who called the non-emergency line then immediately called 911 and said Buxton wasn’t moving and could be dead. The call was upgraded to a Priority 2 and Fire and MD Ambulance were notified.
Police arrived on the scene at 6:26 a.m. and were told Buxton had been taken to hospital. When they arrived at the hospital, police were told Buxton had died and his family had been notified.
The report’s findings said call takers should have asked more questions and “erred on the side of caution” by sending Fire and Ambulance on the first call.
Clive Weighill said he met with the Buxton family and apologized for the delayed response time. Buxton’s wife said she did not wish to comment at this time.
The report said additional call-taking standards will be put in place and communications staff will undergo more training to make sure they ask more thorough questions and follow up calls.