*A Virginia native is dead today because 911 thought his call was a “butt dial.” Robert Paulus died hours later from heart disease, after he made the call and attempted to let the emergency service know that he was having what may have been a heart attack.
The 18-second call to Fredericksburg City Dispatch revealed that when the dispatcher heard nothing from the caller, after three attempts to make contact with him only presented an “unidentifiable sound,” the call was labeled a pocket call, which means no call back is required.
Hours later, Robert Paulus was found dead, presumably by his son.
“There was one final cry for help and nobody responded,” his son, Michael Paulus said.
An investigation of the incident is now taking place by the Fredericksburg Police Department; and its spokeswoman, Sarah Kirkpatrick, has described the handling of the call as “an oversight.” Depending on the results of the investigation, 911 policies could change.
Reports say that 911 dispatchers in Virginia generally will attempt to call back. It is unclear why that did not happen here.
This extremely unfortunate incident sheds light on the fact that although mistakes are bound to be made, companies such as 911 emergency services just can’t afford to. Their role in life or death emergencies is just way too important.
Our hearts go out to the family of Robert Paulus.