When Indiana University graduate student David Bredenkamp saw a student in the library where he was studying suffer a seizure, he called 911. But when he told the operator the name of the campus building where the emergency was, there was a problem.
“They insisted that they needed a full address, so I had to pull out an electronic device with internet connection in order to pull up the specific address that they needed,” Bredenkamp says.
An ambulance arrived within a few minutes, and the student who had had the seizure appeared to be okay. But when speech and hearing professor Rachael Frush-Holt’s daughter hit her head at an on-campus daycare center, it took much longer for help to arrive.
“It took EMS over 25 minutes to get there, and then, as I understand it, my husband arrived there just after EMS arrived,” she says.
Frush-Holt says she was told emergency responders could not find the building and went to another location first. In both cases, says Monroe County Emergency Management Director Jeff Schemmer, just saying the name of a building on campus should have been enough to get an ambulance dispatched. Schemmer says his department uses software which should be able to prevent such delays.
“We actually have another database that the dispatchers can actually enter info in for addresses that we go to a lot,” he says. “If they say it’s at SPEA, and somebody doesn’t know what the exact address is, we can actually go into the [dispatch] system, enter pound sign and type in ‘SPEA’ and it automatically gives us that address.”
Still, Schemmer says a number of issues can cause delays, including buildings on campus being listed by their full names and not by acronyms and ambulances being called from as far away as Ellettsville on busy days. He says many, but not all, IU buildings are in the dispatch system, calling the list “a little bit outdated.”