GREAT BARRINGTON – A police officer who delayed dispatching an ambulance for more than 25 minutes said he was distracted by the station’s 911 communications center when that call arrived, according to an internal investigation.
Officer Andres Huertas has been sanctioned with temporary suspensions, according to documents related to an investigation into the episode obtained by The Eagle.
In a memorandum about the flawed April 26 dispatch, Huertas told Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti that when an ambulance was called to East Street to help Luis Del Mar, he was responding to other calls into the dispatch center, as well as letting people into the lobby of Main Street station. Del Mar had struggled to breathe and died that night.
GREAT BARRINGTON – A housatonic man is pushing for answers as to why a police officer waited more than 25 minutes to send an ambulance to…
“I received other phone calls and radio transmissions which distracted me from sending the first call to 911,” Huertas wrote, explaining why he did not act until a second call. came from Del Mar’s stepson seeking help.
Del Mar, 66, had been released from Berkshire Medical Center on oxygen a week earlier after battling COVID-19. He and his wife, Anita Del Mar, had serious health problems and had been hospitalized together a month earlier. She died in hospital three weeks before Luis began to struggle in their East Street apartment.
The man’s sisters, who had come to help, called Anita’s son Glen Fusco, who rushed to the apartment and called 911 at 6:29:53 p.m. on April 26 and reached Huertas. Huertas did not dispatch the ambulance until 6:55:57 p.m., after Fusco called a second time.
Fusco says it was after this second call that Del Mar deteriorated further, unable to breathe, and the family began performing CPR. At 7:11:55, an ambulance dispatcher asked Huertas for other units and said Del Mar was in cardiac arrest.
Huertas sent the ambulance to the wrong house number – 34 East St. instead of 54 East St., and that wrong address was then repeated by the ambulance dispatchers. Paramedics had started unloading their equipment when Fusco ran into the street to signal them to get off, the documents said.
A paramedic told police he believed this particular delay “had no impact on the outcome of the call,” given Del Mar’s condition. Paramedic Jeremy Vandeusen had arrived on the scene to find Del Mar who was not breathing and pulseless.
A “leader and mentor”
Internal investigation reports also show that Huertas’ emergency medical shipment certification is current through 2022, with a score of 90 percent on his last exam in 2020 because he answered five questions. incorrectly. He failed a certification test in 2016, but passed 100% later that year.
According to the survey, Huertas is required to complete 40 hours of emergency dispatch training instead of his regular shifts.
An April 12 performance review conducted by Storti ranked Huertas as “Completed” or “Distinguished” in most areas except three, including “Office and Shipping Service,” for which Huertas was rated “Competent” . Storti remarked: “Andres is emerging as a leader and mentor within the department. “
Huertes, 27, was hired part-time in 2015 and upgraded to full-time status in 2017. He had a disciplinary note on his file for abusing a sick day that year.
Storti placed Huertas on paid administrative leave on April 29 and began the investigation into the delay in shipping, in which he found that Huertas had committed four violations of medical shipping rules.
In a contract between the city and the police union, in which both parties agree that they will not appeal or take legal action related to the case, Huertas received a 10-day suspension without pay, and a suspension of details and overtime for three months, “unless otherwise specified by the chief of police.
Distractions in the hub
From 6:10 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. that evening, the station’s communications center received 42 calls, visitors and other events, according to a newspaper.
In a report, Constable Joe O’Brian wrote that he and Constable Elias Casey had just returned from a mental health / domestic issue call Huertas sent around 5:30 p.m. The call drove through ” one of the parties to this incident to return to the police station at 6:37 p.m.
“While I was also in the station just before the East (street) call, I hear a lot of phone calls coming in and Ofc. manufacture of Huertas [an] ambulance and fire department for a medical call on East St. I also helped a person walking through the station file a report on a lost cell phone, ”wrote O’Brian, who spoke then went to the East Street apartment, as a death had occurred, and took a complaint from Fusco about the delay.
A log of events in the Great Barrington Police Department Police Station and Communications Center from 6:10 p.m. to 7:17 p.m.
Officer Casey, in his report, said he entered the 911 hub to speak to Huertas about the domestic call. “I remember hearing phones ringing and Officer Huertas receiving and sending calls over the radio,” he wrote.
In Fusco’s second 911 call, he asks why an ambulance hasn’t arrived. Huertas said he would “send them right away”, and when Fusco asked him if they had already been sent, Huertas replied, “I did, yes – I will send them again.”
Storti said he could not comment on the incident or the investigation into it. He said it remained a personnel matter and was an investigation initiated by the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office.
Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington previously said State Police detectives attached to his office were further investigating the episode. His office ordered an autopsy by the state medical examiner.
Fusco said he had unsuccessful conversations with police and the prosecutor’s office about why Huertas delayed the shipment. He fears his 2018 arrest by Huertas and another officer on warrant and influence peddling may have played a role in the mismanaged appeal. He continues to fight this YES accusation in court.
Fusco said that in May he made a statement to detectives in Harrington’s office and they explained that no criminal investigation was underway regarding the delay in dispatching an ambulance. Instead, the investigation focuses on whether there was any foul play in Del Mar’s death.