Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Susan Adelson: Upset, angered by useless 911 call

To the editor:

I was horrified to learn last week of the failure of an employee of an independent-living facility in California to come to the aid of a dying woman. The employee called 911, but she dropped the ball there. She refused to perform CPR, thus not following the directions of the 911 dispatcher. Her reasoning was that it was against her employer’s policy.

The 911 operator suggested finding a landscaper or anyone in the building who would be willing to save the dying woman. Again, the employee refused, and the dying woman did, in fact, die. Subsequent reports stated that the woman actually had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, and her family was not at all distressed by the employee’s failure to help the resident.

My question, then, is, “Why was 911 called?” My understanding is that 911 should be called only when there is an emergency and when help is needed. Before I read the follow-up newspaper article, I struggled with the notion of someone’s choice to save his or her job rather than someone’s life. It clearly seemed to be a question of values. Now, though, I feel somewhat angry that the 911 system was intentionally abused.

Susan Adelson

Northampton

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