TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A 911 dispatcher is in trouble over his response to a mother who called for help after her 10-month-old son accidentally locked himself in her car, police said.
Shana Dees said she put her son Jack in his car seat Saturday afternoon and when she went to move a shopping cart, Jack hit the lock button on the keychain remote, The Tampa Tribune reported. She called 911 because it was hot inside the vehicle and said she was shocked by the dispatcher’s response.
“We won’t be able to try and gain access to the car unless the child is in some kind of distress,” Dees said the dispatcher told her. “And by that point, they may just smash your windows.”
And then he hung up.
Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said the department’s protocol regarding a child locked in a car is to always send an officer and fire rescue to the scene. The dispatcher didn’t even ask the location of the vehicle.
“That’s not how we do business,” McElroy said.
She said disciplinary action could range from a written reprimand to a suspension.
Dees said she was calm while talking to the dispatcher, but after she realized the police weren’t coming, panic set in. The boy had crawled out of his car seat and was starting to become lethargic.
“What do you do when you call the cavalry, and then you’re told the cavalry is not coming today,” she told the newspaper.
An off-duty police officer at the drug store called 911 and spoke to a different dispatcher who sent help.
In the meantime, a nurse grabbed a wrench from the store’s utility closet and smashed the window. By then, Jack had been inside the car for 15 minutes. The nurse got the boy out and poured cool water over Jack’s head.
Dees said she and her husband thanked the nurse, but they didn’t get his name.
“He acted when nobody else did, and we’re very grateful he did that,” she said.
Jack has rebounded, but he’s no longer allowed to play with car keys.
MOM: “It is so hot outside. I’m really concerned, like I don’t think I have time to call AAA before he would suffer heat exhaustion. Can somebody come out and open the door? I don’t even know if that is something you guys do.’
DISPATCHER: “They won’t be able to try to gain access (to the) car unless the child is in some kind of distress and, well, by that point they may just smash your windows,” the dispatcher told Dees.
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