On the 23rd August 2016, I had an anaphylactic reaction during a biopsy. Being in my local hospital at the time I was treated very promptly and discharged a few hours later with the normal warnings about watching out for a biphasic (secondary) reaction later. In my current condition, and given that I only live a few minutes from the hospital, I’m safer at home than in the hospital. As demonstrated by the anaphylaxis being triggered while I was in the hospital, to begin with.
Unfortunately a few hours later and I needed to return to the hospital – fast. Being deaf, and with breathing issues which make speaking extremely difficult, I am registered with the Text 911 service as well as with our local Vulnerable Persons Registry.
On this day I experienced an epic fail. Neither of these systems worked.
The Text 911 service didn’t work and I had to spend several valuable minutes trying to get my location and issues across to the paramedic dispatcher. This was terrifying. It was already an extremely scary situation in that I knew from experience that I only had a few minutes if I was truly going into full anaphylaxis once more. The dispatcher worked very hard with me to understand me and it must have been extremely difficult for her, as I couldn’t hear most of what she was saying so had to simply keep trying to repeat myself until I thought she had the address right.
Now because I was expecting the Text 911 system to work I had called from my cell phone. This meant that my address wasn’t automatically provided to the dispatcher.
Except that, it should have been. I’m also registered with the VPR. This registry is meant to provide a limited profile, that I confirm the details of at least every 3 months, to emergency services. This includes my address linked to both my home number and my cell number as well as the fact that I’m deaf, have breathing issues, and other such essential emergency information.
After the event, I contacted both services and asked them to investigate what happened. The VPR is still investigating though I expect to hear back soon.
Text 911 confirmed that I live in an area where the service is active and working and escalated the issue to my service provider – Fido.
At Fido, my concern was investigated by the President’s office. From the beginning, they have kept me fully informed of the steps that they have taken as their investigation progressed.
Today, they reported the outcome to me.
Unfortunately, it was human error.
The system all worked properly.
I was fully registered.
The system alerted the dispatch that I was a T911 user and for some reason, they didn’t follow the protocol.
The person concerned has been identified and retrained. In fact, the local response unit staff are all being retrained and reminders of the T911 protocol are being sent out to all areas that use the T911 service.
I’m sure that my case will be used as an anonymous example as to why it is so important that they use this system when prompted.
I was lucky.
I was actually still experiencing the first anaphylaxis and hadn’t entered a second. My emergency medications had worn off and the increased steroids hadn’t kicked in yet.
If I had been in full anaphylaxis I probably would not have survived the delay.
I don’t bear any resentment against the dispatch operator.
She made a mistake.
She also had to deal with hearing me fighting for every single breath, knowing that she could be hearing my last at any moment while also helping calm me down and get information from me.
I’m quite sure that once she learned that she’d missed the T911 protocol that she will never, ever make that mistake again.
The T911 service is also very new. I doubt that there have been many uses of it in my area, if any, before mine.
I hope to not need it again any time soon. However, given that I’ve had several severe asthma attacks and borderline anaphylaxis since then it’s likely that I will.
I am hopeful that next time it will work as it should.
In the meantime, I want to raise my hat to Fido.
They put a lot of time and effort into finding out what went wrong and then correcting it.
They kept me fully informed every step of the way.
They also recognised that the situation was terrifying and extremely serious.
Not once, did they try to pass the blame.
In this day and age, it is rare to see such accountability from a corporate organisation.
I am impressed and will remain a loyal Fido customer as a result.