Canton officials say 911 dispatcher turned down phone volume, missed calls for heart attack victim

Stephen Green dies of heart attack

Canton Township public safety headquarters (WDIV)

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Canton Township officials said a 911 dispatcher turned down the emergency phone speaker volume, causing missed calls from the family of a heart attack victim who later died.

The family of Stephen Green, 69, is suing two 911 dispatchers after his death. Family members said they called 911 several times on March 2, 2018, but could not get through because the dispatchers intentionally turned off the system.

Green's attorney said caretakers tried calling 911 a total of 13 times, but couldn't get through.

Dispatchers suspended

On Wednesday, Canton Township officials issued a statement, saying an internal investigation revealed one of the dispatchers had turned down the volume on the 911 telephone speaker, causing the calls to be missed.

The missed calls led to an eight-minute delay in service, according to the township.

Both employees were suspended from the department after the investigation found significant policy violations and evidence of possible criminal conduct, township officials said.

The results of the investigation were submitted to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and Michigan State Police officials.

Prosecutors charged Rachel Rowell with willful neglect of duty in the case.

Family sues dispatchers

Stephen Green's wife, Dorothy Green, was married to him for 25 years. He was a resident at Hartland Health Care Center.

The family's attorney said the doctor who reviewed the case believes Stephen Green would have survived if an ambulance had been sent on the first 911 call.

Investigators said two separate emergency runs were missed.

"This delay in answering the 911 calls caused an approximately eight-minute delay in dispatching of emergency medical services to a CPR in progress run and was the second occurrence of multiple 911 calls being missed within an hour and a half time span," the case report says.

When first responders were finally dispatched, they worked on Stephen Green for 30 minutes but couldn't revive him, authorities said.

After discovering the missed calls, a 911 operator told police that something was wrong with the dispatch counsel. The volume on two phones had been turned down, so they couldn't hear them ringing, dispatchers said.

Full township statement

You can read the full statement from Canton Corporate Counsel Kristin Kolb below.

"First and foremost, The Charter Township of Canton extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Stephen Greene.

"The missed 9-1-1 calls were reported to a supervisor the same morning of occurrence. Upon receiving the report of the incident the Canton Public Safety Department immediately launched an internal investigation into the actions of the named former employees. The investigation quickly determined one of the named former employees turned down the volume on the 9-1-1 telephone speaker causing the calls to be missed leading to an 8-minute delay in service.

"The two named former employees under investigation were suspended from the department after the internal investigation revealed significant policy violations and evidence of possible criminal conduct. This investigation was submitted for review by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Michigan State Police. Subsequent to the independent investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office charged Rachel Rowell with Willful Neglect of Duty.

"The actions of the responsible named former employees are inconsistent with the training, policies and practices of the Canton Department of Public Safety. Additionally, corrective measures have been put in place, and further measures continue to be evaluated by the department to prevent an incident such as this from occurring again.

"In 2018 the Public Safety Department’s dispatch center received 142,375 phone calls which included 25,536 9-1-1 calls. As a CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accredited agency, the Canton Department of Public Safety holds its employees to the highest of standards. Those responsible for this incident have been held accountable, and the public can continue to have full confidence in the professional delivery of service by the Canton Police and Fire Departments."

You can watch Priya Mann's previous story in the video posted below.

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