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Slow 911 response contributed to death of Calif. boy, 16, family says

(CBS) LOS ANGELES - A family says that a slow response time by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics contributed to the death of a 16-year-old, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Jesus Zambrano's family continues to mourn his sudden loss. He died in December 2012 and they continue to insist his loss was unnecessary, the station reports.

In the 911 call made by Nelson Rivas, Zambrano's soccer coach, he is heard frantically trying to get a dispatcher to send paramedics to the soccer field of the Wilmington Middle School - only the coach doesn't know the exact address.

The dispatcher can be heard saying, "Okay, that's not an address, sir. That's just the name of the school."

According to the station, Zambrano was playing soccer when he complained of having trouble breathing.

Rivas, and panicked parents, can all be heard trying to come up with the school's exact address.

Eight minutes later no ambulance was in sight, the station reports. Coach Rivas is again heard asking, "Where is the ambulance?," and the dispatcher again says, he needs an exact address.

CBS Los Angeles reports there is a fire house about 1.5 miles from the school's field.

Then, the station says, the first ambulance was sent to a wrong location. After 13 minutes go by, a second ambulance arrives but Zambrano could not be revived.

Heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato told the station "those minutes are life and death to that person."

She says, "The data shows that for every one minute that you withhold CPR, your ability to survive that incident drops by ten percent so at the end of 10 minutes the mortality is almost 100 percent."

When a reporter from CBS Los Angeles asked LA City Fire Deputy Chief David Yamahata if the dispatcher could have simply pulled up Google maps to find the school, he said, "Again, for a call taker to type in Wilmington Middle School they're not going to get an address, so we wouldn't be able to determine which resource to send."

That policy could soon change, the station reports. The address of every school is being entered into the 911 system so callers in the future will only have to give the name of the institution.

Zambrano's death remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles City Council.

  • Crimesider Staff

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