WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The D.C. 911 call center Acting Director Heather McGaffin said Wednesday that no one calling the emergency line should be on hold.
Her agency has an ongoing investigation into allegations by a District family that delays may have led to a man’s death.
McGaffin said in an interview with DC News Now that while not taking the blame for the situation, she admitted there should never be a 911 call delay.
“In an emergency, no one ever wants to wait,” McGaffin said. “A wait time is unacceptable in any situation.”
Bernard Baker Jr. died last month. His family blames 911 and the subsequent EMS response.
“I want us to minimize the wait time as much as we can in any situation because that is what helps build confidence in our system here,” McGaffin said.
Baker Jr., 42, died in the early morning hours of April 30 after what family considers being on hold for minutes and then what they consider a lack urgency from the paramedics who arrived at the home in northwest DC.
McGaffin said the investigation would continue but she did not give a timeline on when it would be complete.
“It is under active investigation. We will be in contact with the family to explain our findings,” she said. “Not in a public setting. They deserve to hear it from me.”
Kevin Baker, who gave his dying brother chest compressions before paramedics came to the house, said he’s expecting answers from the agency.
“It’s still that we lost one,” Kevin Baker said. “The attitude and understanding of her aggressively approaching the situation…This should never happen to anyone.”
There have been questions of whether the call center had enough employees working that night, a point McGaffin wouldn’t confirm.
The 911 Call Center held its first-ever “Prospect Day,” where more than 130 call-taker applicants took tests. Those who passed were granted interviews. The agency has one out of every five jobs open.
“I’m happy that they’re doing something about it, but we should have been done something about it,” Kevin Baker said.
Bernard Baker Sr. said he’s looking forward to McGaffin being transparent with his family about the response time to address his son’s apparent heart attack.
“That way we know where we stand with them because it’s really bad,” Bernard Baker Sr. said.