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Response To 9-1-1 Call Creates Uncertainty After 3-Month-Old’s Death

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Dahmir Barnett

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A three month old stops breathing.

“I checked on him to see if my son was breathing, I tried everything, then I called an ambulance, I started screaming and calling my neighbor, ‘Can someone help me? My son is not breathing right,'” said Antonia Flecha.

Little Dahmir Barnett’s mother called 9-1-1.

“I tried my best to give him CPR,” said Flecha.

Instead of the medics arriving, police got to her house in the Juniata section of the city and grabbed Dahmir and took him to St. Christopher’s Hospital, one mile away.

“I had my son’s hand, he came back and it was like u know, he is coming back but he may never be the same, I had my son’s hand and he just left me again, he just went away,” Flecha said.

The doctors at St Christopher’s gave Dahmir’s mother the news, Dahmir was gone.

“They were like, ‘Sorry there is nothing else we can do, he is gone’ they started taking the machines down and taking all the stuff,” she said.


When asked, ‘Do you think this child could have lived had an EMS unit been there? Billy Gault, President of the Firefighter’s Medics Unit Local 22 said “I think it could have had a better shot.”

Gault tells Eyewitness News, the 9-1-1 system is set up so that a 9-1-1 caller first has to speak with a police dispatcher and then explain the emergency again to an EMS dispatcher.

“Aren’t 911 callers answering the same questions twice on the police side and EMS side? Yes, it happens. Yes, we have an antiquated system. Does this make any sense? No, especially since we have a dollar on everyone’s phone bill for 911,” Gault says.

He says, while a 9-1-1 caller gets transferred from police to EMS dispatchers, crucial moments are being lost for someone who needs an ambulance.

“Its not the cops fault, its not the fireman’s fault, it’s the city’s fault for not giving us the resources we need every other day we run out of medic units,” says Gault.

But the city says no time is lost when callers are transferred.

The city admits police often get to a scene before EMS because there are 6,000 officers versus 222 EMS personnel.

“From what I have been able to see, we are still looking at some more issues but, they did everything they could do,” says Everett Gillison, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety.

The city points out the officer response time to the scene was 1 min, when asked if the outcome would have been different had an ambulance responded first instead of that police officer, Gillison responded by saying:

“I doubt whether it could have, but the one thing that could have been different, would be if the ambulance could have gotten there first, one person would have been doing CPR.”

“I just want my baby back. I want to find out why he left me, I’m just suffering every day, I want him back, I try to deal with all the pain, said Flecha.

A preliminary autopsy shows Dahmir died of sudden infant death syndrome, but a full autopsy report is not done yet.. Dahmir’s mother says her son was revived at the hospital so she is not convinced he died of SIDS.

Reported by Valerie Levesque, CBS 3

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