911 Dispatcher May Have Given Faulty Instructions

Posted By The McClellan Law Firm || Jan 15, 2015

A 911 dispatcher in San Diego may have given questionable medical instructions, local news reports.

The accident occurred when a motorcycle struck a pedestrian, amputating his leg. A bystander used his belt as a tourniquet in an attempt to save the man's life, following first-aid training he received in the Navy.

"I put the belt around his leg and stopped the bleeding," said the man. "It's been bothering me because I thought I did the right thing by putting the tourniquet on, and when I was told to take it off…yeah, it's been bothering me."

The man's girlfriend was at the scene of the accident and placed the 911 call. In it, the dispatcher instructed them to remove the belt. After the man followed these instructions, the victim became unconscious and later died.

The man said, "But because they said to take [the belt] off, I took it off…and I didn't' agree with that."

San Diego Fire Chief Response

The San Diego Fire Chief issued a statement to local news sources, indicating that the fire department was aware of the issue. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is currently reviewing this case.

"I have confidence in the ability of our dispatcher to handle emergencies efficiently," said the fire chief, "…and I want the public to be assured you can have that same confidence."

What are the legal implications?

Although this case is still under investigation, it raises an interesting question: Are 911 dispatchers legally liable for deaths and injuries?

In 2010, a lawsuit alleged that multiple San Francisco dispatchers failed to provide proper emergency services. In the suit, plaintiff's attributed the poor services to maladministration on the part of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

In 2012, the LA Times reported that Los Angeles Fire Department wasted time instructing callers to start CPR on accident and crime victims. The article also stated that "speed is everything," when it comes to CPR, and delayed first-aid can lead to death.

San Diego Wrongful Death Lawsuits

At the McClellan Law Firm, we provide caring legal guidance and advocacy for families who lost someone they love to wrongful death. If you believe that your loved one's death was caused by the carelessness or negligence of another, speak with an attorney from our law firm today.

We offer free consultations. Start yours now.

Blog Home


  • “Having had the high privilege of presiding over a number of cases involving national counsel, I want you to know you’re one of the very best [...]. You and those with you were outstanding ambassadors for our profession and once again made me most proud to be a part of our legal community.”

  • “It was a real honor to preside over a case with you as counsel. In my mind you represent all that is good in our profession.”

    - Judge J.

  • “We do not quite know how to verbalize or show how grateful we are to have had the distinct honor to have you represent us at truly the most critical time in our lives.”

    - S.C.

  • “We wouldn’t be here, in this moment of life without the kindness and professionalism of you all and how you went to bat for us! Eternally grateful!”

    - A.K.

  • “We will NEVER forget what you did for us Craig. We are FOREVER GRATEFUL.”

    - K.V.

View More

Our Awards & Accolades