NC 911 Dispatcher Fired After Giving Wrong Address

DURHAM, N.C. -- A 911 dispatcher in North Carolina has been fired after she caused a four-minute delay for firefighters responding to a blaze that killed a 74-year-old man in Durham home.

Reports said a neighbor across the street from Marvin Jacobs' home called 911 on Aug. 17 from an Internet-based phone that failed to give her address.

Emergency officials say Theresa Hopkins didn't understand the caller and sent firefighters to a similar-sounding street on the other side of the city.

Durham 911 Director Jim Soukup says Hopkins should have asked for more information like cross streets or which side of the city the woman lived on.

Hopkins had been a 911 dispatcher for three years.

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  • by 911 Dispatcher Location: Eastern NC on Sep 1, 2009 at 06:50 AM
    The job we have is a very important one. We do have alot of peoples life's in our hands. But you must also understand we have people that don't know there address or even what county they live in. We have people who think they can dial 911 and we can transfer them to 911 in Hong Kong. I do agree she should had asked more questions. But I have been doing this type of work 10 years and believe me until you are in the center and see what goes on please don't judge the job we do.. It is often hard enough dealing with the public and keeping a smile on your face. I am very sorry for the person that loss there life and there family. Only thing I can say is let this be a lesson to other's like myself who enjoy there job. Sometimes we can only hope we are doing our best at what we do..
  • by Fact Dog Location: NC on Aug 31, 2009 at 01:55 PM
    Their is one way to fix the problem! Do away with street names and then give each street a number; it works.Their are to many names that sound the same.This should be a wakeup call for all TOWNS ,CITIES, and counties.But we all know the people in government will not fix the problem ;just cover it up.
  • by Concerned Location: Greenville, N. C. on Aug 31, 2009 at 08:10 AM
    It's not the dispatcher fault. With all this technology it should have registered. With all of these satelites able to show where you lived. Surely, you should have found this location
  • by Randy Location: Greenville on Aug 31, 2009 at 06:16 AM
    She must be working for the DOT now since I called in a stop light not working right and she kept asking for an address??? I told her its an intersection firework and evans how could there be an address, lol
  • by Clifton Location: Washington on Aug 31, 2009 at 05:09 AM
    OOPS> Here is the website with the street names for Durham. MANY of the names are very similar.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2009 at 04:44 AM
    Firing someone for another person's mistake is wrong. 911 should have it set up where internet calls are able to be tracked as well. Enough said.
  • by Clifton Location: Washington on Aug 31, 2009 at 03:48 AM
    After viewing this web site that has the street names in alphabetical order, I now stand even more firm in my belief that the dispatcher should not have been fired. The dispatcher should get a good attorney and take it to court. The person who made the call should have been held responsible. A scapegoat was needed to keep from the caller being fingered when in fact the caller did not name the streets either.
  • by WOW Location: Gville on Aug 30, 2009 at 07:44 PM
    I understand someone lost their life in this situation and my heart goes out to their family and friends, but I do not think the dispatcher should have beed fired. I can see him/her getting suspended without pay or written up, but fired...oh no. I think it is more to it. Maybe it was requested by the family to fired the dispatcher. You have to realize that this dispatcher will live with this the rest of his/her life. So firing him/her is not hurting the dispatcher, its knowing the fact that someone died because of the neglagence. And who's to say that the person who called in didnt give the wrong address from all the excitement, have they even listened to the 911 call?
  • by Kevin Location: Kinston on Aug 30, 2009 at 06:15 PM
    You have got to be kidding Durham. How many times did the higher ups have to replay the tape to understand what the person said that was giving the address? Could of taken an additional 4 minutes just to get the caller to calm down enough to pronounce clearly. Unless there were other issues with this dispatcher then you should ask forgiveness and reinstate this person.
  • by Former Dispatcher/Police Officer Location: Eastern NC on Aug 30, 2009 at 05:54 PM
    I sympathize with this Dispatcher because I'm sure she is feeling plenty of guilt, but it isn't her fault. She did make every effort to dispatch the Fire Department with the information that she had obtained from the caller. I was once confronted with a situation where a man called for an ambulance and he knew that he was dying, and his last words were: "I might not make it til they get here". I told my Chief of Police at that time of the call and he advised me to call an ambulance near the caller's address, due to the "districting" issues in our county. Had I sent our own volunteer firefighters and EMT's, they might have gotten there in time, but the man passed away before "the local" department arrived. I felt really sorry because I knew that I was the last person that this man ever spoke to. There are more reasons than one why Emergency help doesn't always arrive in a timely manner and sometimes the blame belongs to the ones who write policies rather than those who take the calls.
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