Did dispatch delay contribute to death of BYU student?

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

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  • neece Logan, UT
    March 21, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    PGVikingDad - You apparently have never been to a dispatch center. I challenge you to go to the closest Dispatch center and sit with them for 8 hours I guarantee you will change your tune. Yes the dispatcher could have sent equipment closer and faster, BUT did you also read that part of the problem was the policies that were finally changed? Before you crucify the dispatcher, look into the people who make up the rules and regulations they have to follow... look into the politics and the dollars that are saved at the sacrifice of lives. Try sending only one ambulance, police or fire to several different calls ALL a high priority... but you can't because of budget cuts. So before you point the finger, perhaps you should find out the "root" of the problem. Which in MOST cases not all mind you... you will find it was most likely 1 dispatcher, multiple calls, multiple agencies they were responsible for. With that being said... That dispatcher has to live with their decision. They could loose their job for a judgement call, hopefully some MAJOR training and policy changes took place.

  • neece Logan, UT
    March 21, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    It is always sad that policies are mostly implemented when something tragic happens. Sometimes it comes down to the mighty dollar. Never the less... we as supposedly knowledgeable people/adults need to also use common sense. Unfortunately the girl and her friends decided to hike in a dangerous area. I live in Logan and heard how unsteady the snow was in that area so what? Oh lets go hiking anyway? Understand I am in no way blaming, or accusing. But we drive at higher than posted speed limits so they decide to lower the speed. Why? If they were going to go higher than the higher speed limit what does lowering the speed limit? It means they are now going 25 miles over the limit instead of 15. We need as a society to stop pushing the limits. Living dangerously results mostly in tragic incidents. Avoid, use common sense, know before you go, take hazards seriously and mostly remember that it is someone else that now has to put their lives in danger because you decided to disregard warnings.

  • No Longer Anti-Mormon peyton, CO
    March 3, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    Can't you leave well enough alone! This family are members of our community and I think they have had enough to deal with, without the 'what if's' being put in their faces. If I would have been a little faster getting ready for a trip eleven years ago, I wouldn't have crossed paths with a drunk driver and been hit head on either, and my family would not have suffered so terribly! If the 911 call had been routed to the correct emergency crew, 2 miles away, instead of routing to an emergency crew 25 miles, they could have got there quicker in my accident too. The fact is, it happened! Yes, do what you can to try to ensure that things come together better next time, but don't plaster this all over for Ashleigh's family to have to look at and think about! I can promise you, they have enough on their minds!

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:37 p.m.

    This story of people dragging their feet and not doing their job brought sadness to my heart.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 5:51 p.m.

    this is not mudslinging. Nothing was embellished. just the facts were reported. sad the closest responders were NEVER dispatched.,

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 4:17 p.m.

    Dispatchers have to cope with and respond to thousands of different emergencies (and non-emergencies!) and sometimes they will not get it right. Anyone who thinks they can do this job perfectly needs to rush down and get signed up to save lives!

    Locations are hard or easy to find. The situation may be a common one (heart attack shoveling show at home), a house fire, a kid run over in their driveway, or unique (avalanche in remote area is pretty uncommon.)

    Sounds like they did all the right stuff, but overlooked one critical asset. Did they just forget about it, or did the consciously decide (incorrectly) that it was located where it would be hard for them to get to the scene in a timely manner.

    Remember, our avalanche danger has been very high nearly all winter, and the victim and her friends voluntarily chose to go out in the remote area in risky conditions. Had they been more prudent in their decisions, no rescue would have been needed.

    Sort of like complaining about the location of fire hydrants when you let kids play with matches.

  • PGVikingDad Pleasant Grove, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    "Well, she shouldn't have been snowshoeing, because *I* know it was dangerous" is NOT an excuse for a poorly handled emergency call. It makes no difference, whatsoever, as a matter of fact. There are just some jobs that have to be done exactly correctly, because lives are on the line. The dispatch service has a responsibility to know their systems inside and out to give the citizens who pay their salaries every chance for life. Ten minutes is a looooooong time and a massive mistake. If that dispatcher and their service are incapable of maintaining and utilizing a simple map of community areas and geographically available emergency personnel, then they need to find a new line of work, because their incompetence is a danger to their community.

  • Mimifran Gymea, NSW
    Feb. 28, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    What a sad tragedy. My condolences to everyone affected by this young girl's untimely death. Accidents happen. I'm sure everybody did all they could with what they knew at the time. Perhaps from this investigation will come a rescue plan utilising those specifically trained in these kind of rescues. It is always important and necessary to return to and check SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) after any event, and improve if found to be inadequate. I think this is what is happening here. Perhaps more interagency interaction, training and communication will come of this tragedy. All the best.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 1:24 p.m.


    When any system (whether it's search-and-rescue, medical services or a retail business) hits a glitch, the best response is to examine the issue carefully, figure out what went wrong and why, and then do your best to fix it. Getting all defensive and accusing the examiners of a "witch hunt" doesn't help anyone, including those who made the mistake in the first place. We need to be focused on doing the best job we can and not worry about looking bad or losing face.

  • One opinion west jordan, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    This is a traumatic experience to say the least but it sounds like everyone did everything they could. Having been up American Fork Canyon to Tibble Fork many times you realize it takes a while to both go down the canyon and then get someone up the canyon. Emergency help is several miles away from Tibble Fork. The road is narrow and is a little over 10 miles - it isn't a 70 mile an hour road. I would think it could have been icy given the shade it has. As I recall the young woman went into water face down. Snow is very heavy and the snow would not have been powdery. I feel everyone did the best they could and deserve thanks for making the effort in the valiant way they did.

  • wazzup Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:26 a.m.

    @vladhaven. Unless you learn from the past, you are likely to repeat the past. The investigation should be centered around the 'root cause' of the delay so as to fix any problems that may prevent the next tragedy.

    thank goodness it's not Hilary Clinton investigating this. it wouldn't matter why this young girl died.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    This article also is a good example of why anyone treading out of normal areas should be well equiped. I know of a person whos life was saved because another person had a satellite phone. Didn't have to worry about cell tower reception. Plus there are emergency beepers that a person can carry that help with location when under snow. Also, if you watch shows about groups walking over certain areas that might be dangerous, they tie up together with rope. A GPS might be very helpful when exact location is uncertain. Just a few thoughts for anyone venturing in the backcountry.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    The article just says what happend. If there is a non well oiled dispatch system I think the public that is paying for it has the right to know and fix it.

    My sympathies, what a nightmare for everyone involved.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 8:50 a.m.

    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.

  • neece Logan, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 8:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    Feb. 28, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    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.

  • greatbam22 andrews afb, MD
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    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.

  • Todd_i Midway, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:50 a.m.

    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.

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:34 a.m.

    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.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:30 a.m.

    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.

  • I Choose Freedom Atlanta, GA
    Feb. 28, 2014 7:06 a.m.

    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.

  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    With good reason, Vladhagen.

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 6:45 a.m.

    It strikes me as being honest and genuine.

  • Kay Hunt Celebration, FL
    Feb. 28, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    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.

  • Something to think about Ogden, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 5:53 a.m.

    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.

  • CougarColby Fort Benning, GA
    Feb. 28, 2014 5:42 a.m.

    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?

  • windsor City, Ut
    Feb. 28, 2014 4:13 a.m.

    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?

  • Y-Ask-Y? Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 4:06 a.m.

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

  • David RI SLC, UT
    Feb. 28, 2014 12:20 a.m.

    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.

  • TMR Los Angeles, CA
    Feb. 28, 2014 12:10 a.m.

    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.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:56 p.m.

    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.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    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.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 27, 2014 10:20 p.m.

    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.