Apr 10, 2006
A 46-year-old Detroit woman, Sherrill Turner, died on February 20, after a 911 operator took her son’s call as a prank.
Her son Robert, five years old at the time, called twice reporting that his mother had passed out. The second time, the 911 operator told him to stop playing on the phone, then dispatched police to the house instead of an EMS unit.
The woman was already dead by the time police arrived, three hours after the first call was made.
In fact, something similar to this happens over and over and over again – because the budget for basic city services has been cut to the bone.
911 operators are in drastically short supply because of these cuts, and they are under incredible stress that is certain to lead to bad decisions like this one. Because of severe shortages of firefighters and EMS units, callers often have to wait over an hour for someone to show up – even when a call is taken seriously.
Detroit has no money for emergency services – and yet, it shells out hundreds of millions of dollars so that two stadiums, three casino-hotels, Compuware and General Motors corporate headquarters, riverfront development and luxury lofts can be built!
Homes burn and people die because the politicians set such priorities. And it’s not just in Detroit. Residents of cities across the country have come to conclude that “911 is a joke.”
In the death of Sherrill Turner, the city government – and the corporations that raid its coffers – all have blood on their hands.