More 911 calls released from Waikele explosion

Published: May. 26, 2011 at 12:52 AM HST|Updated: May. 26, 2011 at 3:18 AM HST
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Mark Rigg
Mark Rigg

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIKELE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Another set of 911 recordings have been released on the Waikele explosion from last month that killed five people.  The calls were taken by Emergency Medical Services operators.  While there was some miscommunication the tone was different from the controversial emergency call taken by the fire department which we aired on Monday.

The call to EMS begins with the survivor asking for an ambulance and the fire department.  At the same time he's trying to help one of the victims who came out of the bunker on fire.  That stress combined with poor cell phone reception made it difficult to give an exact address.

Operator: "Sir stop yelling I need an address."

Caller: "Alpha 21 in Waikele.

Operator: "Alpha 21?"

Caller: "Yes"

Operator: "Okay what does that mean?"

Caller: "Waikele Storage."

Operator: "You need to calm down okay. You're at the Waikele storage. On what road?" <48>

Caller: (Unintelligible)

Operator: "Listen to me. You work there?"

Caller: "Yes"

Operator: "Okay and you don't know the address to it?"


Operator: "Sir what's going on?"

(Sirens sound in background)

Operator: "What the heck?"

The call gets quite emotional after that but the EMS operator did not make any derogatory comments to the caller.  Earlier this week we aired a separate call from this incident where a Honolulu Fire Department dispatcher was recorded calling this same person an expletive idiot.

The calls to paramedics came in first.  The call disconnected three times. The operator eventually called back each time until the first ambulance arrived on scene.  Judging from the timeline of the calls it took 15 minutes from the time the first call was made to paramedics arriving.

The EMS Deputy Director said his operators did a good job considering the circumstances.

"Our communication center deals with emotional callers on a daily basis," said Mark Rigg, EMS Deputy Director.  "The accident was so severe, the caller was so distraught it was very difficult to get that information.  If you listen to the tapes it just shows you how stressful and emotional the call became. The dispatchers are human beings as well and they get caught up in the emotion and they're trying to do their job and I guess the point is it can be a very stressful."

EMS will review the case and see what they can learn before the next critical emergency.

The preliminary results as to what caused the explosion are expected to be released in the next few weeks.

To view the previous story on the call that is prompting changes within Honolulu Fire Department dispatcher training click here.

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