Widow reacts to grand jury investigation of Carroll 911 call center

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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CAROLL COUNTY, Ga. - The widow of a man who died after a dispatcher sent paramedics to the wrong address in Carroll County said she wants an outside evaluation of data systems and operations at the emergency call center.

"It won't bring him back, but at least we will know what happened," said Reba Langley.

Langley told Channel 2's Tom Regan she believes it's possible her 73-year-old husband, Fred Langley, might be alive had paramedics arrived sooner at their Temple home on June 23.

Her husband collapsed in the front yard as he was leaving for a doctor's appointment.

Langley said she gave the correct address to a 911 operator, who sent paramedics to another street bearing the same name in Carrolton. The error delayed help from arriving on scene for nearly 20 minutes.

"Then I called a second time, and when they got here, they laid him out on the driveway and I never got to see him again," said Langley. Fred Langley later died, possibly of heart complications.

The chairman of the Carroll County commission said the mistake was not the result of a technical error.

"This was not a system error. It was 100 percent human and the (911) audio shows that clearly," said Chairman Bill Chappell.

Chappel told Regan that the county installed software known as CAD, or computer-assisted dispatch, two years ago and that he is satisfied the system is working fine.

"We re-mapped the entire county. This new system can prepare a report on response times of ambulances," said Chappell.

Chappell said he welcomed a special grand jury evaluation of the county's 911 system.  He also expressed condolences to Langley's family.

"I have great sympathy for them. It's a terrible situation. It was just human error," Chappell said.

The dispatcher who made the mistake, a 17-year veteran, was fired. Langley's wife said she is not angry with the dispatcher.

"I feel sorry for her, because I know she didn't do it on purpose. If they had gotten here in a timely manner, then who knows, he could still be alive today," said Langley.

The county district attorney said he expects the special grand jury to take up the investigation in September. He said the purpose is not to bring criminal charges, but determine whether improvements in systems or operations should be undertaken.