Contact: Emma Skilbred
Public Information Officer
OPCD Issues Statement in Response to WWL-TV Story and Comments Provided by City Council Leadership
New Orleans, LA (February 8, 2023) On Sunday, Feb. 5, OPCD Executive Director Tyrell Morris was reviewing posts on the NextDoor application, as he does often to remain connected with residents. He came across a post from a resident who was displeased with the processing of her 9-1-1 call. Director Morris engaged the resident directly and posted a comment asking for additional information so he can have the OPCD Training and Compliance Bureau conduct a formal review. The resident did just that, and an internal investigation was initiated.
On the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 7, a WWL-TV reporter engaged OPCD and requested an interview regarding the post made on NextDoor. OPCD responded that the incident was actively under investigation.
That evening, at approximately 7:00 p.m., WWL-TV ran a story about the incident without allowing the agency’s investigation to be completed or provide an opportunity to OPCD to follow-up with the family.
Additionally, the story includes a quote from New Orleans City Council President J.P. Morrell stating the agency “fell flat on their face” and makes the notion that the training provided is inadequate and implies that our emergency communication professionals do not send help until all the questions are answered.
It is vitally important that OPCD informs the public that these statements are untrue, and Council President Morrell never engaged agency leadership to understand the facts before providing a comment.
“The language used in the story by the reporter and our City Council President sent shock waves through the agency today. The statements were offensive, uninformed and inadvertently demoralized the dedicated emergency communication professionals that serve and protect this city every single day during these unprecedented and challenging times. It is moments like this that make the recruitment and retention of public safety personnel difficult. We must allow the agency’s investigative process to be completed before anyone passes judgement,” said OPCD Executive Director Tyrell Morris.
Here are the facts:
- OPCD received a call around 3:00 AM on Feb. 1, requesting an ambulance for a male having arm pain.
- The call taker immediately confirmed the address and launched the medical protocol selecting the chief complaint (Sick Person).
- The protocol then prompted the call taker to ask six questions to evaluate for priority symptoms indicating a life-threatening emergency.
- At the end of the questioning, there was not a single affirmative response to indicate that any priority symptoms were present. This includes consciousness level, breathing status, and major bleeding.
- The call was processed as a 26A10 (or code 1, low priority) call.
- The New Orleans Fire Department responds with New Orleans EMS on high priority calls where there is a need to stabilize a patient. That was not the case here.
- The caller was also instructed that if his condition changes to please call 9-1-1 again.
- The caller made several calls to check the status, and every time the call taker asked, “has anything changed?” and each time, the answer was “no.”
This morning, after the compliance investigation was complete, Director Morris met with the leadership team to further explore what changes the agency can make to help elevate potential cardiac episodes that may be present in a non-traditional way. The IAED supports the presence of arm, jaw, neck or upper back pain to be considered chest pain, but the electronic version of the medical protocols are not configured accordingly. This afternoon, OPCD formally submitted a Proposal for Change to the IAED asking that the system will transition to the chest pains protocol when these symptoms are present in isolation.
OPCD’s hard-working call takers receive over 504 hours of training before they can process 9-1-1 calls independently. They are also certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) in Emergency Medical Dispatch, Emergency Fire Dispatch and Emergency Police Dispatch and are required to complete 48 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their certification.
Additionally, the Training & Compliance Bureau does weekly roll call trainings, as well as perform formal quality assurance evaluations on a random sampling of incidents, as well as all major offenses and cardiac arrest calls.
The entire OPCD team is committed to transparency with our media partners, the New Orleans City Council and the entire public.
About Orleans Parish Communications District (www.OPCDLA.gov)
Formed in 1982, the Orleans Parish Communication District is the public safety answering point (PSAP) for all emergency communications via 9-1-1 within Orleans Parish. The agency employs over 180 individuals and provides emergency medical dispatch, emergency fire dispatch, and emergency police dispatch for the millions of annual visitors and residents of the City of New Orleans. OPCD is a member of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).