Family questioning ambulance response time to deadly crash - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

Family questioning ambulance response time to deadly crash

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A motorcyclist was killed in one of a couple of multi-vehicle crashes on I-84 East on the Cheshire-Southington line (WFSB) A motorcyclist was killed in one of a couple of multi-vehicle crashes on I-84 East on the Cheshire-Southington line (WFSB)
CHESHIRE, CT (WFSB) -

Eyewitness News obtained documents that reveal a miscommunication between dispatchers resulted in a major delay in ambulance response.

Eyewitness News learned it took 48 minutes to get an ambulance to a deadly motorcycle crash on I-84 in Cheshire last month and the victim’s family is searching for answers.

The 911 call came in on a stormy afternoon on June 27. The crash was in the area of exit 27 on I-84 eastbound. The victim was 62-year-old Charles Tuscano, of Middletown.

Records show Cheshire police dispatchers called Campion Ambulance, at 4:45, two minutes after the initial emergency call was received:

Eyewitness News obtained the calls between dispatchers.

At 4:45 p.m., Cheshire police called Campion:

Campion:
“Ambulance.”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:

“Hey, it’s Cheshire.”

Campion:
“Hello.”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“I haven’t gotten this official yet, but we’re taking calls for the State Police for a multi-car accident with a motorcyclist down on 84 eastbound at exit 27. I think it’s going to be inside Cheshire.”

Campion:
“Ok.”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“Alright, I’ll page you if I get anymore.”

State police and Cheshire firefighters responded. They get on the scene at 4:57 p.m.

Tuscano’s condition is never made exactly clear in radio communication, but after 10 minutes of being on scene and 24 minutes from when Cheshire received the initial call, first responders were anxiously awaiting the ambulance. 

At 5:07 p.m., a first responder called Cheshire police dispatch.

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“Cheshire.”

First Responder:
“Do you have an ETA on the ambulance?”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“I could call and check on it. Hold on, I’ll give you a call back.”

Cheshire’s dispatcher immediately calls Campion, and this is where they realize a big mistake was made.

Cheshire PD Dispatch:

“Do you know how far out the ambulance going to the 84 crash is? State Police are asking.”

Campion:

“I don’t know if we have that one yet. I don’t believe we have that. I know we got a phone call from you guys saying that there was one. You were confirming it.”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:

“Right. Someone was supposed to respond and I was going to call back with more information.”

Campion:

“Oh”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“Alright, there’s a motorcyclist down at 691, I-84 eastbound, by 27.”

State police dispatchers were stunned when they learned after troopers were on scene for 13 minutes, an ambulance was still not on its way.

At 5:10 p.m., state police called Cheshire police.

State PD Dispatch:
“Did you find out where that ambulance is?”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“Yeah, it’s going to be awhile. There’s a miscommunication and they didn’t send anyone originally.”

State PD Dispatch:
“They didn’t send anybody?”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“Yeah, now I have to play this back to see what I said to them that made them think not to send somebody.”

Dispatch tapes obtained by the Eyewitness News I-Team show four minutes later, at 5:14 p.m., there’s still confusion in determining where to send the ambulance.

Cheshire PD Dispatch:
“They’re right at the overpass.”

Campion:
“Right at the overpass?”

Cheshire PD Dispatch:

“Right at the overpass.”

The tapes show it would be 5:31 p.m., 48 minutes after the initial 911 call, before an ambulance would arrive.

According to the Tuscano family, who did not know about the delay until we told them about it, say the 62-year-old was pronounced dead in the 6 p.m. hour.

The town of Cheshire and its police department had no comment for Eyewitness News.

State Police acknowledged Channel 3’s request for information weeks ago, but have not provided their dispatch tapes or logs.

The I-Team reached out to Campion Ambulance last week and on Wednesday to see what went wrong on their end, but got stonewalled each time.

When the I-Team reached out to the Tuscano’s a second time, we learned they’ve gotten a lawyer.

The state’s Department of Public Health released a statement and said “While state law requires all dispatch centers to have and follow Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) protocols, there is no one set protocol. Rather, protocols can vary depending on the EMD vendor used by the dispatch center. You would need to ask the particular dispatch center involved in this incident for their particular protocols.”

In the meantime, Cheshire is actually close to settling on a new agreement with Campion Ambulance. It’s unknown if town officials knew about this issue prior to the talks.

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