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'This can't happen again,' Lone Peak fire chief says

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 10:05 p.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

This article almost borders on ..... uncouth? mudflinging?.....? It is like publishing all medical malpractice suits against area doctors in the newspaper. It just rings a bit like a witchhunt somehow.

Springville, UT

911 dispatch has certain established protocols to follow. It's all recorded and will be investigated properly. No jumping to any conclusions necessary here. It will all come out and if some weaknesses are discovered then I have faith in the public safety sector that improvements will happen.

Accidents happen, the only thing that is certain is yes, another 10 minutes would have improved this victim's chances but no one will ever know what exactly those chances were at the time.

South Jordan, UT

No, Vladhagen, it's articles like this that saves lives! Now the agencies involved they have very serious commutations issues that could have possibly cost a life, and what's more, they realize the public knows.

Los Angeles, CA

Withhunt? Wow. Unbelievable insensitivity. This is good reporting. Heart-wrenching, I am sure for family and friends, but hopefully lessons can be learned that curb dispatcher delay.

David RI

Human error is unavoidable at times. Nobody is perfect. Could they have responded more quickly? It appears so. Hopefully they learn from this and get on the same page. On the other hand when you are in a canyon snow shoeing and you become buried in an avalanche, 20 minutes response time sounds pretty good. We can't be dependent on search and rescue for our safety when taking risks with mother nature. The fact that they got there as soon as they did is impressive. If they feel they could do even better, great. That's good news for all of us. Tragic story, unfortunately it takes these stories to learn and improve for both search and rescue and people recreating in avalanche territory.

Provo, UT

Hiking in dangerous avalanche conditions, without regard for avalanche warnings, seems the greatest contributor. Such a sad tragedy.

City, Ut

I too have dealt with a lackadaisical dispatcher in an emergency.

SEND help immediately THEN you can ask all the unhelpful, irritating, pointless questions you want.

I called, gave the problem, the address, and asked for immediate help. It was after asking a lot of unnecessary questions that they finally dispatched a fire crew to a medical emergency, then after much more calling condescended to send paramedics. That fire crew was much appreciated and did their best to get the person stable by the time the paramedics arrived a long time later.

This story made me think of some of the dispatchers in NYC during 9/11 that have taken so much heat for their condescending, irritating and unhelpful patronizing to people who were calling in a panic for help.

Hopefully, this girl's death will get the issue examined again. Send help, then you can be bored or ask unhelpful questions.

Know this is not the issue with all dispatchers and I thank you if you are one who cares about the life and death that is at stake in your jobs--

but the few I have had to deal with seemed bored and almost comatose. What is with that?

Fort Benning, GA

I think this just shows the issues with the dispatching system. If you call 911, you could reach a dispatcher from another city or county, depending on how busy it is. If you don't make a specific request or let them know exactly where you are then they can dispatch from another area. At least in my neck of the woods this is how it works. There needs to be a more efficient way when dealing with life and death.

I think this story is a great eye opener. This poor girl passed away, possibly, due to the dispatch. People need to know about it. This is how change occurs and how people are held accountable.

Vladhagen, I am sure you would like to know if your surgeon was under investigation for medical malpractice, right?

Something to think about
Ogden, UT

re Vladhagen

I agree! The article made it sound like it took hours, when in truth it was minutes. Yes, minutes here, minutes there add up, but....

Why not blame the cell company too. After all they failed to put up a cell tower in a remote Utah location... just in case of an emergency.

This is a sad story. I feel bad for the family and for the loss. But it was an accident and those happen.

Kay Hunt
Celebration, FL

Vladhagen...uncouth? mudflinging? Really? This is a serious question for the dispatchers. If the ability to dispatch is not used then why bother having a dispatcher? Maybe this young lady could have been saved. Maybe not? We will never know but I think what the newspaper is reporting is that the procedure did not work and may need to be looked at because it may save a life in the future.

Salt Lake City, UT

It strikes me as being honest and genuine.

Salt Lake City, UT

With good reason, Vladhagen.

I Choose Freedom
Atlanta, GA

If it were my daughter that died that day, I would also want answers. Is it not the very purpose of an emergency response system to always respond as quickly as possible? And if it doesn't then questions need to be asked and answers given so that delay's can be removed from the system. Lives literally do hang in the balance in emergency situations and seconds can save lives.

Santa Monica, CA

This is a stunning example of a story needing to be written, but the shaming headline being pointless. "Did the dispatch delay" (which sounds like a few minutes at most) contribute to death of BYU student?" From everything I read in this article, an avalanche contributed to the death of this poor girl. Perhaps rescue could have arrived 3-5 minutes earlier if all had gone accordingly, but I doubt that any particular rescuer would be told by the parents "Thank you for contributing to the death of our child." This is sad, tragic news and communication in these instances can always be better. But whoever wrote this? You can see by the sad and immature remarks which follow, some people begin using terms like "lackadaisical" and uncaring. That begins with your headline, which seems to be meant to shame, or blame in the wake of tragedy and people doing their best. It is possible to report, ensure coverage and let the public know so that they might remain vigilant, without resorting to US News and World Report tactics.

Holladay, UT

As I have said before, I was there that Saturday afternoon snowshoeing with my girlfriend and dogs above Tibble Fork Reservoir. We left the parking lot about 4:45 or 5:00 PM. As we drove out there was a 4WD sheriff's vehicle coming up the last steep section in the road. I remember it because just in front of the police car there was another (2WD) car slipping and sliding, trying to get up the hill. There was a police car present in the Tibble Fork lot around or just before the time of the accident. Seems like a pretty reasonable response to me.

Midway, UT

It is good to see the fire chief and others in the system are aware and working on this. I'm sure they would rather hide this in the closet, but in this case they are dealing with it which should lead to better response time and more accurate personnel sent.

Ten minutes in many cases is not a big deal. In this case the girl was revived and kept alive with equipment for a day before they decided to take her off the equipment because there was no brain activity. The extra ten minutes (5 for delayed dispatch + 5 for sending the wrong units) without oxygen is related.

With this being said, I appreciate the service of the dispatch and emergency personnel. My job success is not measured in response minutes and my mistakes aren't published in a newspaper. It is good to hear those in the system are working to solve the problem.

andrews afb, MD

I agree with Vladhagen this article seems to have some pretty strong bias to it. In the LDS faith one of our basic beliefs is agency.

Fact: This girl decided to do something dangerous by going snowshoeing in an area that is known for avalanches.

Fact: The article hardly if at all sheds any light on this but instead focuses blame on others.

It is tragic that she had to lose her life but she made her own decision. I will concede that there is a greater possibility that she could have survived from this event if the dispatcher had dispatched correctly but at the same time it's not guaranteed.

San Antonia, TX

That slide happened so she could be brought home to Heaven.

Anyone familiar with how far away help was will realize that this debate on dispatcher response is fine to learn from but in no way would have changed the outcome of this situation.

Logan, UT

You people who criticize Dispatchers as lackadaisical or uncaring, nonchalant have no idea what it is like to be a dispatcher. It takes YEARS of training to get to that point. You have to sound that way... Dispatchers deal with life and death situations every day all day... Did they mess up that day possibly, but as a former 20 dispatcher if we sound rattled, or scared, excited it gets everyone else rattled and more scared. We need to sound calm cool and collected. Excitement breeds more excitement... Calm reassures. As for the "stupid, unnecessary questions? The more information the more we know who, what, where, how much, how fast equipment is sent. There will be an investigation. But the facts still are... she was without oxygen for 20 min. The brain starts dying with in 6 minutes. Would she have still made it? Who knows. Ultimately it was the avalanche that killed her, stop always trying to find a scapegoat, sometimes things just happen and for no reason.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

Unless a pocket of air is somehow available to a person buried in an avalanche, the chances for survival diminish quickly after 3 to 5 minutes.

A great deal of gratitude should go to the people unrelated to the snow shoeing party who possibly risked their lives while searching for this young lady in an unstable mountain environment.

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