Changes coming after man’s heart attack, delayed emergency response

April 17, 2018 GMT

In a statement released Tuesday, a spokesperson with the City of Raleigh said they are “conducting a review of the events that took place on April 5,” the morning family members said it took nearly 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to help save a dying man.

Steven Tibbetts, 63, a retired Wake County magistrate, complained of chest pain and weakness in his legs on the morning of April 5, according to a report from the Fuquay-Varina Police Department. James Pasternak, Tibbetts’ son-in-law, began driving him to a nearby hospital, but his condition worsened, and he pulled off the road to call 911.

Pasternak says he called 911 at 7:57 a.m., from his car. He pulled into John Heister Chevrolet on Main Street in Fuquay-Varina to get help at 8 a.m. and stayed on the phone with 911 until 8:14 a.m.

“After conducting a thorough review of the events that took place on April 5, we have identified the issue and have taken extensive steps to ensure that all 911 calls are handled accurately,” John Boyette Jr., a spokesperson for the City of Raleigh said in a statement.

The 911 center confirms the call was made, but puts it at 7:59 a.m. However, the call does not show up in the log for their live computer aided dispatch (CAD) system. The live CAD log only reflects a second call, made by Phillip Allen, a Heister Chevrolet employee, who noticed there was a medical emergency and called 911 at 8:10 a.m.

An analyst for the 911 center said the reason the first call didn’t show up is because it was not part of that “live” system, meaning for some reason it was put into a different system.

WRAL has learned through multiple sources that an ambulance was not dispatched as a result of the first 911 call, and that Wake EMS only received word of the emergency after the second call at 8:10.

Help arrived at 8:15 a.m. Tibbetts was taken to UNC Rex Healthcare, where he was pronounced dead.

In Boyette’s statement, the city says they are working to improve their 911 processes and systems to make sure they are reliable and responsive in light of this issue.

“We are always improving our processes and systems, and are committed to providing the most reliable and responsive 911 service for all of our Wake County residents. The City of Raleigh has no further comment on this matter at this time,” Boyette said.

Following Boyette’s statement, Tibbetts’ daughter, Ashley Tibbetts-Pasternak, issued the following statement:

“This has been an extremely devastating time for our family. Dad was our heart and soul. He loved his family and wanted to see his grand babies grow. Now, we are left grief stricken and deeply confused. We want to know what the “issue” identified was and we want to know what steps have been taken so that no one has to go through what our family is now going through. We would like to thank everyone at John Hester and all the EMS that helped that awful day. They were all so kind and worked diligently to try and help Dad.”