Outdated GPS software led to delay in emergency response time

Ambulances in Maury County were delayed by a GPS system that did not update. (WSMV)

It's a task you can accomplish with the click of a button, but failure to do so could cause delays in emergency response times for ambulances that rely on GPS devices.

A News 4 I-Team investigation found a failure to update a GPS device delayed an ambulance from responding to an emergency last month.

Hilda Hill didn’t wait when she spotted her 87-year-old neighbor lying in the street last month.

“911, what’s your emergency,” a dispatcher said.

“There’s a guy who fell on the ground,” Hill replied.

Ten minutes later, Hill called again.

“We need an ambulance down here,” said Hill before she was transferred.

“It’s been over half an hour,” she told the next dispatcher.

But the man had broken a rib, stayed on the ground for 31 minutes before an ambulance arrived from Maury Regional Medical Center.

Between Jan. 1 and May 9 of this year, the average response time for Maury Regional Medical Center was 10 minutes, 30 seconds, according to spokeswoman Rita Williams.

Williams said the reason for the delay deals with the GPS in the ambulance.

The spokeswoman said the Garmin GPS failed to show a road was partially closed, prompting the crew to find another route. Re-navigation tacked on an additional 11 minutes to the response time.

The I-Team drove the same route as the ambulance. Keep in mind, the main EMS station is 12 miles away from the scene in Columbia.

The I-Team arrived in 19 minutes, 40 seconds, roughly 10 minutes sooner than the actual ambulance.

Hill said in an emergency, every second counts.

“We were expecting a prompt response,” Hill said.

Williams said the maps are updated whenever Garmin sends notifications. She did not specify a time frame.

So how often are other ambulances receiving update notifications? Wilson County: Every six months or when Garmin sends updates. Nashville: Annually or whenever Garmin sends updates. Sumner and Rutherford Counties: Paramedics primarily rely on computer-assisted dispatch programs (CAD), the same technology used by 911 dispatchers. Those systems are typically updated whenever roads change.The man who fell is now recovering in a nursing home. He also broke his wrist in the fall.

Hill said she’s speaking out so dated maps never slow down an ambulance again.

“I was panicked,” Hill said. “I was terrified.”

Since the incident on April 24, Williams said Maury Regional Medical Center has updated the Garmin devices in every single ambulance.

She said they also alerted Garmin about not receiving the proper software update.

The I-Team reached out to Garmin but did not hear back by deadline.

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