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Lack of Communication Nearly Costs Life

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Lack of Communication Nearly Costs Life

Ambulance

Ambulance. Archive photo. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A 65-year-old woman, who nearly died of exposure early Sunday morning because of lack of communication between a 112 National Emergency Number operator and police, was released from hospital on Monday, RÚV reports.

Employees of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police and those of the 112 National Emergency Number have in recent days met to discuss what went wrong. Guðfinna Gróa Pétursdóttir was on her way home at 3 am Sunday morning when she slipped on ice in front of her home in Kópavogur, near Reykjavík, fell on her head and lost consciousness. When she came to two and a half hours later, she made several attempts to call 112. The first three times, the connection was lost, but the fourth time she called, although very disoriented, she was able to state her name and address and say she was cold and unable to move.

The phone operator deemed the call to be a police matter and transferred it to a police officer in the same building. At that point, Guðfinna could barely express herself and the connection was lost after a few seconds. It appears the police officer had no knowledge of who was trying to call, nor did he investigate why the connection was lost. He was not contacted by the phone operator either to ensure the transferred call came through. Thus, no police car was dispatched.

After 9 am, a neighbor found Guðfinna in the snow, unconscious, with a body temperature of 20°C (68°F). She was hospitalized and spent time in intensive care.

Tómas Gíslason, vice CEO of the 112 National Emergency Line told RÚV that communication between 112 and police had to be improved and the operators of 112 ought to have permission to dispatch police directly. Jón Bjartmarz, chief superintendent of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police stated that attempts are being made to find out what went wrong to make sure this kind of mistake won’t be made again.

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