|Updated: 2/11 8:18 am
||Published: 2/10 9:14 pm
PAWNEE COUNTY, Okla. - When you have an emergency, you call 911.
It's what we're all trained to do and what we teach our kids to do.
A green country woman contacted FOX23 after she called 911 and couldn't get help. FOX23 investigated what went wrong and how to avoid flaws like this from happening again.
FOX23 crew went to Donna Larson’s house to learn more about her and her story.
"That's Lulu. She's the good goat," said Larson.
That’s Jack, you can see the horn,” Larson told FOX23.
Yes, Lulu is Donna Larson’s good goat and Jack is the bad one. Jack rammed Larson in the leg with one of his horns back in December.
She was bleeding badly, "It was pretty deep. You could see the bone. I didn't know what to do," Larson explained.
She decided she needed help so she called 911 from her cellphone.
"I said well I got a really bad leg cut, clear to the bone and I need some help," Larson said to the 911 operator.
Larson then gave the dispatcher her address near Mannford in Pawnee County.
The dispatcher told her, "well there's no way that we can help you."
Larson told FOX23 she was in shock, “I said, what? He said, ‘We're not capable of going there’ so I said you can refer me to someone who can, transfer my call and he said ‘we're not equipped to do that.’ And I said, 'could you give me the number to call' and he said, ‘I have no idea.’”
In a panic she ran to her neighbors, who drove her to the hospital.
She ended up with nearly 30 stitches.
“If he had sliced me where there was an artery or a vein, I wouldn't have made it,” Larson said.
Donna Larson decided to call 911 again the next day to ask why she couldn't get help when she needed it.
She believes this call was picked up by Osage County, “and she said, ‘ma'am, it's your responsibility to know what your emergency numbers are.’ I said what's my emergency number if it's not 911? She said, ‘I have no idea. That's your responsibility’ and that ticked me off, Larson told us.
Furious, she called FOX23 for answers.
We began our investigation, first calling Pawnee County dispatch.
The fire chief in charge declined our request for an on-camera interview.
He told me he's not sure if Larson’s first call came into his center because they can only look back at the 100 most recent calls and too much time had passed.
FOX23 then called Osage County. The director of dispatch told me she couldn't find a record of Larson’s number around the time of her emergency either.
Carolyn Smythe is the director of Mannford Ambulance Service, the agency that should have been dispatched to Donna’s house.
Smythe told FOX23, “I feel it's a failure for our part too because we weren't called. We didn't know that she had an emergency.”
FOX23 asked Smythe, “And you would technically be the closest ambulance provider?”
Smythe replied, “We would've been, yeah, we would've been.”
Smythe told FOX23 she's horrified by Larson’s 911 experience but not surprised since Larson called 911 from her cellphone, “You don't know where your cellphone is going to, that's the problem,” Smythe said.
When you dial 911 on your cellphone, your call may be picked up by the closest cell tower but if that tower is busy, your call gets bumped to another tower.
That could be in another county, even another state.
“You can be transferred to Tulsa, to Sand Springs, to Okmulgee, Okemah, anywhere but that dispatch center should have enough info to get you where you need for help," Smythe said.
It's Mannford’s policy to send an ambulance even if they get a call from outside their area. Until they know a closer agency is responding.
“If I am the only available one we are going to go until we take care of that patient," Smythe told FOX23.
Larson has now programmed her ambulance provider into her cellphone, with the local Mannford number, hoping she never has to use it.