Dinwiddie Fire & EMS explain response time to Otieno 911 call

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:08 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, Va. (WWBT) - A frantic 911 call from Central State Hospital provides insight into how paramedics responded in Irvo Otieno’s final moments.

“We need an emergency, what you call, an EMS here at Central State Hospital,” the caller said. “The patient is new admission, so we’re still in-in the admission unit. He’s being very aggressive,”

The call was made to 911 on Monday, March 6, at 4:42 p.m.

“So, they’re doing CPR right now, and there’s no pulse anymore,” a caller said.

“I’m sorry, the patient is aggressive? Or is he not breathing?” the dispatcher said.

“No, he used to be aggressive, right, so they’re trying to put him in a restraint, then eventually he’s no longer breathing,” a caller said.

Dinwiddie Fire and EMS were then dispatched to the scene.

“Ma’am, our emergency is here at Central State Hospital. We called at least 15 minutes ago,” the caller said.

“We have medics en route,” the dispatcher responded.

Tensions mounted as minutes passed as Central State rang 911 again.

“Ma’am, they’re coming as quickly as they can. We also have a motor vehicle accident also,” the dispatcher said.

“This is just totally unacceptable, and y’all know it too. Just totally unacceptable,” a caller said.

It took eighteen minutes for paramedics to arrive on the scene.

“That particular day, two other incidents were going on at the time the third call came in, which happened to be from Central State Hospital,” said Assistant Fire and EMS Chief Dawn Titmus.

Titmus says paramedics were responding to a call for a cardiac arrest while also responding to a motor vehicle accident.

She says the closest ambulance responded to the call from the center of Dinwiddie County.

“They responded with lights and sirens, as they normally would have, but unfortunately, lights and sirens don’t always make a big difference. It’s really travel time. It’s the distance. It’s the number of miles that must be traveled,” Titmus said.

Titmus says four ambulances covered all 507 square miles of Dinwiddie County that day.

“It’s challenging to get things to you as quickly as some jurisdictions that are more populated, and cities, and larger localities that have fire stations or resources on every corner.”

Titmus says once paramedics arrived, they did everything they could to save Otieno.

“They put in a lot of effort and dedication into what they do every day,” Titmus said.

Titmus adds they were not short-staffed that day, but the department has been experiencing some staffing challenges. She says it’s a nationwide problem.

The Assistant Chief says some days, they have six paramedics working a shift while responding to an average of 12 calls per day across Dinwiddie County.