No laughing matter: 911 dispatcher laughs as man reports girlfriend on fire
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Lalo Delgado's girlfriend caught fire in a freak accident on their way to Chiva Falls. But when he called for help, he says the way dispatcher handled the call was unprofessional.
911: 911 what is your emergency?
Caller: My car just kinda caught on fire, my girlfriend caught on fire.
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, Lalo couldn't believe what he heard next.
"Her initial reaction was laugh and giggle in the background," said Delgado. "It was very disturbing."
Here's a transcript of the moment he's referring to.
911: Is your girlfriend still on fire?
(laughter in background)
911: Ok. (chuckles) Umm... Is your vehicle still on fire?
Caller:It's hilarious huh?
911: Sir, is your vehicle still on fire?
Caller: I just heard you smirk... Inaudible.
911: Ok, sir it wasn't regarding that ok.
Caller: Yeah, I just heard you laugh.
"You're calling for help, you shouldn't be laughed at," said Delgado.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department admits their dispatcher messed up.
"We did not perform as I expect or the citizens of this county expect us to," said Capt. Jim Berry. "We're going to correct that. Certainly I can understand why he was upset. I would be too."
But they call this an "isolated incident." County dispatchers receiver more than 400,000 911 calls. They dispatch approximately 130,000.
"We're investigating what the laughter was about," said Berry.
They started investigating before the complaint ever came in. And say despite the call taker's poor performance, response time wasn't affected. Lalo disagrees.
"If she wasn't there playing around giggling and would have been right on it," said Delgado. "One minute, two minutes, every minute counts man."
Lalo even called back.
911: 911, what is your emergency?
Caller: Yeah I called in a few minutes ago and I just wanted to make sure you took me seriously.
By that time, help was already on the way. But his faith in 911, he says, already shaken.
"Hopefully the next person that calls 911 doesn't get laughed at," said Delgado.
The dispatcher is still working pending the outcome of the investigation. 9OYS is told she had no prior incidents on her record.
As far as Lalo's girlfriend, she is slowly recovering, but she has a long road ahead.