Mayor raises E-911 concerns after family emergency

Published 12:53 am Sunday, December 3, 2017


NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell was in the middle of his morning workout Friday when his mother began having diabetic complications at her residence. After making a 911 call at approximately 8:05 a.m., Grennell frantically rushed to his parents’ house.

He beat the ambulance there.

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“That’s unacceptable,” Grennell said.

Grennell said he waited approximately half an hour for an ambulance to arrive at his elderly mother’s doorstep after calling for help.

“If it’s my mom, it’s somebody else’s mom or child or spouse,” Grennell said. “It should not take that long.”

Thankfully, Grennell said, his mother eventually received attention and now appears to be fine.

“But it could have been much worse,” he said.

Grennell said he called county supervisors about the incident, discussing the need for an ordinance that specifies criteria for response times.

“I called the county board members, I told all five of them we need to revisit that ordinance … of making these providers accountable,” Grennell said.

The county manages emergency management, including the E-911 Dispatch Center. In emergency medical situations, the dispatchers will connect the caller with one of two ambulance services: Metro Miss-Lou Ambulance Service or American Medical Response (AMR).

AMR was contacted first in this instance, but after a lengthy wait, dispatchers made the decision to call Metro, whose ambulance arrived at the residence in a matter of minutes, E-911 Dispatch Supervisor Catherine Latham said.

A 911 call came in for the incident at approximately 8:05 a.m. Friday, Latham said. At the time, the call was in regards to a possible stroke, though that turned out not to be the case.

Latham said that the E-911 dispatcher immediately connected the caller to AMR. The dispatcher reportedly stayed on the line until all information about the medical call had been relayed.

Latham said two police officers were en route to the scene at 8:07 a.m.

At approximately 8:15 a.m., Grennell called 911 to ask the status of the ambulance, and five minutes later one of the police officers called to request the ambulance’s ETA.

Latham said a dispatcher called AMR, informing them the woman in need of assistance was the mayor’s mother. AMR informed the dispatcher that the ambulance required an estimated five to seven minutes of travel time, Latham said.

At that moment, the dispatcher made the decision to call Metro.

“And I backed her in that decision,” Latham said. “I would have done the same thing.”

Latham said Metro responded in approximately five minutes and reported being on scene at approximately 8:34 a.m.

By 8:39 a.m., when Metro notified E-911 dispatchers about their arrival, AMR had reportedly still not shown up.

After tending to Grennell’s mother for some time, the Metro crew departed back to their station after the woman signed a letter of refusal, Latham said.

“I’m glad it wasn’t any worse because of the time delay,” Latham said. “We are just going to be seeing where these delays are coming from.”

AMR Natchez Operations Manager Tim Houghton said the group’s two 24-hour ambulances were already handling other calls, meaning the company had to pull a unit from one of their other service areas.

Houghton said an AMR ambulance arrived shortly after the Metro unit arrived.

Houghton said Friday morning’s incident, though undesirable, is bound to happen sometimes when dealing with a high influx of calls.

Adams County Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said officials might discuss the topic at Monday’s joint meeting between the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Board of Supervisors Office, located at 314 State St.