Widow wants answers about delayed 911 response in Rendon

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by TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 29 at 10:19 PM

Rendon

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RENDON — Nancy Strickland isn't the same person she was just three months ago.

In mid-February, her husband awoke just before 5 a.m. with chest pains. He was dead within a half-hour.

"No one else should have to become a widow and go through what I went through," she said.

Strickland isn't talking about the loss.

She is more concerned about the response time for emergency medical personnel in her community located about 12 miles southeast of downtown Fort Worth.

It took more than 30 minutes from the time she spoke to a 911 operator to the time a Rendon Fire Department EMS crew arrived at her home.

According to dispatch logs and audio obtained by News 8, Strickland first spoke to a Tarrant County Fire Alarm Center dispatcher at 4:57 a.m. A crew from Rendon Fire Department was dispatched a couple of minutes later.

But by 5:15 a.m., there was still no sign of help.

Strickland said she was shocked. The firehouse where the ambulance is parked is only three short miles away from her family's property.

Then, Strickland said the dispatcher called her back. "And he said, 'The ambulance was lost.'"

Strickland gave the address of their family property, which actually has a couple of different buildings on it. She said she flipped the porch lights on and off at the house where she and her husband waited for help. There also is a sign marked "Strickland" on the front of the property.

But according to the log, it wasn't until 5:29 that a crew from Rendon Fire Department arrived. By that time, Curtis was unconscious, and he wasn't breathing.

"They were still in the driveway, and my husband was already gone," Strickland said, fighting back tears.

The department is conducting an investigation into what went wrong. Officials did say a technological glitch may be to blame for the crew initially heading to a wrong address, but couldn't comment beyond that.

"On any call there are response standards, and we try to meet those," said Assistant Chief Rodney Smith.

In a written statement, Tarrant County dispatch said its operator "...properly and promptly notified the Rendon Fire Department of the emergency."

The state health department is also investigating.

Nancy Strickland said she realizes her husband still may have died had first responders arrived earlier, but she said at least there is a chance he could have lived.

The department said it continues to review procedures.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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