Friday, February 08, 2008

Caregiving: caller with MS put on hold, dies in house fire

Brenda Orr had multiple sclerosis and was bed-bound. She called 911 the morning of Jan. 29 to report that her bed was on fire and she couldn’t get out. 


         Caller put on hold, dies in house fire


“… Her 911 call rang in the Bucks County emergency communications center seven times — and 27 seconds elapsed — before a male dispatcher answered and said, "911. Can you hold one second please?"


Orr answered, "I can’t. This is an emergency. 911 emergency. Three-four-zero Doyle. Bed on fire."


But, on a recording of the call, it sounded like the man had already stepped away from the phone.


No one spoke for another 27 seconds.


County officials will not say what happened or why no one spoke to Orr during that time.


A female dispatcher picked up the phone 55 seconds into the call and asked for the location of the emergency.


Since Orr was calling from her home phone and the county has what is known as an "enhanced 911 system," Orr’s address showed up on the dispatcher’s computer screen. County Director of Emergency Communications Brent Wiggins said the dispatcher still had to ask for the address to make sure it was correct. There was nothing in the 911 system to indicate that Orr was disabled.


Orr calmly and clearly repeated her street address — "Three-four-zero Doyle [Street]" — three times as the dispatcher asked if she lived in a township or borough.


After Orr told the dispatcher that she lived in Doylestown, the dispatcher asked if Orr was still in the house.


"Yes," Orr answered.


"All right. Well, you wanna get out of the house?" the dispatcher asked.


"No! I’m disabled," Orr answered. "The bed is fully inflamed."


Then Orr went silent.


For the remainder of the recording, the dispatcher is heard trying to talk to Orr and asking a co-worker if she should stay on the line. …


Brenda Orr, rest in peace.


Caregivingly Yours,

J Patrick Leer


  1. this is so sad:( it makes me sick to think they ignored this poor woman. thank you for sharing this


  2. awful!!! I am so sorry for her passing, I can only hope ALL 911 systems in the country make note of this tragedy and figure out a way not to let this happen again to another poor soul


  3. OH NO! This is so upsetting.

  4. This is so terrible! How sad it is... I'm sure this makes you feel even better about Patti being in a home, doesn't it?

    Hope your weekend is going well!

  5. We heard this on the news and were filled with sadness. And outraged anger.  This is unimagineable and happens far too frequently.  Heads should roll for this and I hope that they do.  Some people should not be in public service jobs.  

    Rest in peace Brenda Orr.



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