Family says slow 911 response cost son's life - WSMV Channel 4

Family says slow 911 response cost son's life

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When you call 911 you expect help to be quick.  But one man says that wasn't the case when his son collapsed.

Now, he's filed a formal complaint and wants an investigation into the incident that he says may have cost a life.

It's a 911 call that will forever haunt a Coffee County family.

On Oct. 6 at 5:16 p.m.,  Doug Davis was at a friend's house on Shelton Road in Manchester, TN, when he collapsed.

What no one knew then was that the 43-year-old father of three was having a heart attack.

"He was my best friend. I don't know how I'm going to get by with it," said Doug's father, James Davis.

From the beginning, James Davis believes county workers made a series of mistakes that cost his son his life, starting with the dispatcher.

"All she could holler was, 'Was he drinking?' Instead of worrying about his health and trying to save him," said James Davis.

"We did our job according to policy and procedures," said Steve Deford, Director of Coffee County 911 Call Center.

Deford said the operator acted appropriately.

"If we can't determine if a person is not breathing, then we have to determine, find out why the person is unconscious and that's one of the criteria that's asked if a person has had alcohol," said Deford.

In less than a minute, operators dispatched the first ambulance.

Normally one would come from the Madison Street station just 2 miles away, but that station was down an ambulance and the other was out on a call.

So, one had to come from new Union Station, which was nearly 7 miles away.  That ambulance then got lost en route, slowing the response time. Nine minutes later, officers arrived before the ambulance and started CPR.

By 5:26 p.m., the ambulance came and transported Doug Davis to United Regional Medical Center.

Davis was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, but by then it was too late.

"The doctor told me if they had got to him on time and got oxygen to his brain, he might be alive today," said James Davis.

But now all Davis can do is wonder what might have been.

"I'm not after any money. I'm not trying to sue them. I'm just trying to save somebody else's life," said Davis.

Davis has filed a formal complaint with the Coffee County 911 center and the dispatcher for what he calls negligence, lack of concern, knowledge and professionalism.

Channel 4 left several messages for the EMS director, John Cathey last week, but so far he hasn't returned our calls.

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