What happens when you have phone service through Comcast and you dial 0 for the operator in an emergency? A family in Florida claims that Comcast’s negligence killed their grandmother. The elderly woman bled to death next to her phone while waiting for the Comcast operator and emergency services to figure out where she lived. Now they’re suing Comcast.
The lawsuit alleges that last year, a panicked 81-year-old Florida grandmother dialed 0 after a freak crystal dish accident that left her bleeding heavily from her foot. By dialing 0, she reached Comcast’s operator, who transferred the call to a police dispatcher. Unfortunately, the Comcast operator didn’t have access to the caller’s address information. While the operator and dispatcher figured out where she lived, then transferred her to emergency services and waited for help to arrive, the woman bled to death.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which obtained recordings of the woman’s phone calls, tried dialing 0 from a Comcast phone. They were greeted with a prompt to press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, then to press 0 again for an emergency. They did not attempt to call 911 to see what information is available to dispatchers about Comcast customers who call 911 directly.
The recordings show that the woman was in such a state of agony and panic that she couldn’t speak long enough to give her address.
“Sorry but, I … I can’t speak!” she screams when asked her address at one point. “I can’t!” The phone is then disconnected again.
At another point, the Boynton Beach dispatcher asks the Comcast operator if she has the caller’s address.
“Her phone number, when we put in her phone number, it is showing that there is no information available on that number,” the Comcast operator says.
“Oh, goodness,” the Boynton Beach operator responds.
Comcast and the various governments involved declined comment because of the lawsuit. The family is suing Comcast for an unspecified amount, and also plans to sue the city and local fire/rescue service.
One lesson for the rest of us from all this: make sure that your elderly relatives who learned how to use telephones when telecommunications were very different know to dial 911, or pre-program emergency numbers into their phones.
Boynton grandmother bled to death after Comcast mishandled emergency calls, suit alleges [Sun-Sentinel] (Thanks, Ely and Alexa!)