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Payer & Associates Miami Injury Lawyer 305-854-4442

Wrongful Death Filed After First Responders Failed To Enter Home


A lawsuit has been filed against first responders in the suffocation death of a woman who had called 911. The woman told the dispatcher that she couldn’t breathe and wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it to the door. The dispatcher replied that the door would have to be broken down if she could not open it and got her consent to do so.

Nonetheless, firefighters waited outside the woman’s home for 15 minutes while she struggled to breathe. By the time they gained entry into the residence, the woman had died. Now, her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit amid allegations that the firefighters were only there because EMS was understaffed, failed to apply the appropriate policies to the situation, and simply did not act quickly enough to access the woman. In this case, the firefighters were faulted for not breaking down the door to access the woman until it was too late. Department policy indicates that was the correct course of action. In this case, the fire department called the sheriff’s office to break down the door. Had they broken down the door themselves, it is likely the plaintiff would still be alive.

Game of telephone 

The county in which this incident occurred changed its policy as a direct result of this incident. In this case, the call was relayed from the 911 dispatcher to the private ambulance company and then back to the fire department. The ambulance was on a priority call elsewhere and could not be reached in time. Hence why the firefighters showed up. The ambulance dispatcher spoke to the plaintiff who was still on the phone while another ambulance dispatcher spoke to the firefighters outside of the home. The message was communicated that the woman could not access the door, but the urgency of the issue was not communicated. In this case, the ambulance crew had to send messages to an ambulance dispatcher who would then relay the message through 911. It created a mess of confusion that resulted in a woman suffocating to death while everyone was trying to figure out what was going on.

After the firefighters became aware that the woman could not open the door, they called the sheriff to gain entry. The firefighters at this point had a green light to forcibly enter the residence but elected to call the sheriff instead. The dispatcher appears to communicate the urgent need of the patient, but the firefighters still wait to call the sheriff. The ambulance dispatcher is recorded saying, “We told them to gain entry,” and indicated that they had consent. Meanwhile, the patient is heard saying that she could hear them knocking, but was unable to get off the floor.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

EMS mishaps are becoming a common cause of wrongful death lawsuits. If EMS negligently handled your emergency or you lost a loved one to negligent emergency medical services, call the Miami personal injury lawyers at Payer Law today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.


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