EXCLUSIVE: Aiea heart attack victim dies after ambulance sent to wrong address

EXCLUSIVE: Aiea heart attack victim dies after ambulance sent to wrong address

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has begun an investigation after a city ambulance was sent to the wrong address, delaying paramedic care for an 78-year-old heart attack victim who died several days later.

And it's not the first time this has happened, raising concerns about the reliability of the city's EMS dispatch system.

"He was awesome.  They don't make them like that anymore," said an emotional Maureen Pescaia, talking about her husband of 22 years, Dayle, who died June 2 in the hospital, four days after suffering a heart attack in the middle of the night at their Aiea town home.

"I specifically kept my land line because he had medical challenges and I wanted to know that if I called the ambulance, they'd easily find us.  And it didn't work," Maureen Pescaia said.

As soon as she called 911 around 1:16 a.m. on May 29, she said the dispatcher pulled up her address in the E-911 system as Uao Street, which is the nearby Lele Pono high rise, not the townhouse on Ualo street, where she lives.

"She says. 'Where are you?' I said, 'Pacific Village.' She says, 'It shows Lele Pono.' 'No, I'm in Pacific Village.'" Maureen Pescaia recalled. "She says 'No, it's Uao.' I said, 'No, Ualo. U-a-l-o Street."

Hawaii News Now obtained an internal city EMS report that showed the ambulance responded at 1:18 a.m. and arrived at the wrong scene four minutes later at 1:22 a.m.

That's when the dispatcher -- still on the phone with Pescaia as she was administering chest compressions to her husband -- told her to go downstairs and let the paramedics in.  But they were nowhere to be found.

"There's no one there.  I ran back up the stairs.  She says 'Aren't they there?'  I said 'No.' So I started doing chest compressions again," Pescaia said. "I thought 'I'm a widow.'"

She said because the paramedics were sent to nearby Lele Pono apartments instead, they arrived at the correct address several minutes later, after fire and police crews had gotten there. The EMS report does not show exactly when the ambulance finally arrived at the correct scene, because the computer only captured its first arrival, which was at the wrong place.

The city EMS report showed the ambulance dispatcher wrote "kept trying to update the address, but system would not let me."

Sources said on rare occasions, city ambulances are sent to the wrong address because of glitches in the system, which is why dispatchers double check addresses with 911 callers.

"I can't think of anything more frightening than thinking 'They've gone to the wrong place because of a computer glitch,'" Pescaia said.

She said her elderly husband suffered from diabetes, heart and kidney problems and it's unclear if the delay in the paramedics' arrival caused his death.

Mark Rigg, the director of the city Emergency Services Department, which oversees city ambulance operations, said in a statement, "The Honolulu Emergency Medical Services division is actively investigating the incident."

Sources said the ambulance dispatcher should have radioed the paramedic crew and diverted them to the correct address, something that did not happen right away.

Pescaia said she's not planning to sue the city, she just wants them to correct the computer glitch and make sure a paramedic delay doesn't happen to someone else.

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