ABQ Fire Rescue Dispatcher Wanted Citizen to Do AFR's Job
By: ABQRAW staff
Posted: 6/15/2022 at 12:52PM
On May 31st, 2022, a resident called Albuquerque Fire Rescue via 911 to report an elderly man in distress at the intersection of San Mateo and Montgomery in Albuquerque. The caller stated the man was swaying back and forth and "didn't seem right."
DISPATCHER: "But, do you think he wants help? And what makes you think that?"
CALLER: "I'm just told that if you see someone that doesn't look right or that needs help to find help. So, that is what I am doing. It didn't look right. I see homeless people all the time, I don't call them all in. But, this didn't look right.
DISPATCHER: Is there is there any way you can go talk to him and see if he needs help?
CALLER: No, I'm not trained to do that.
DISPATCHER: But even just to ask him a question, if he if he needs help.
CALLER: Nevermind, thank you.
ABQ RAW listened to radio dispatches during the time frame and did not hear a medical or ACS personnel being dispatched to the area for the elderly man.
On June 6th, 2022, during a regular City Council meeting Q&A of administration segment, District 7 Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn brought this call to the attention of AFR Fire Chief Gene Gallegos.
"She was asked twice if she would go interact with this person and I just want to see if that is really the policy. Are we asking citizens of Albuquerque who call 911 for help to go intervene with people that they do not know? There may be a mental problem, there may be a drug addiction problem," said Councilor Fiebelkorn.
AFR Fire Chief Gallegos responded: "I haven't listened to the second part of the tape. But as far as our policies go, there's there are a set of questions that our dispatchers follow. And one of the questions is, have you talked to them or have you asked them anything? I want to be perfectly clear. We want everybody that feels that they need to dial 911 and ask for our help. The we're here to serve them and to make sure that they don't feel like they are being asked to do something that is out of their their scope and putting them at risk."
The 911 call given to us was 2 minutes and three seconds in length between the dispatcher and caller. AFR Chief Gallegos admitted to City Council he did not hear the whole tape and said the dispatcher was a new hire.
"I'm kind of disturbed that you haven't heard the second part of the tape because, I have. And it was it was requested several days ago. We got it. We forwarded it to your department as well. And it was not a question of have you talked to this gentleman? It was two or potentially three times," said Councilor Fiebelkorn.
We reached out to Albuquerque Fire Rescue to see if the dispatcher was punished and if any new policies are being put in place. They have not returned our inquiry.