911 dispatcher allegedly laughs at Arizona man during emergency

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TUCSON, Ariz. (CNN / KOLD) — An investigation is underway after local 911 dispatchers are heard laughing after a man calls to report his girlfriend is on fire.

According to KOLD, it happened about a week and a half ago after an off-roading accident near Chiva Falls in Reddington Pass, east of Tucson.

DISPATCHER: What’s your emergency?
CALLER: Yeah, my car just caught fire and my girlfriend caught on fire. We’re going toward Chiva Falls.

Lolo Delgado, his girlfriend and their children were headed for a weekend of camping in an area of Chiva Falls known for off-roading.

DELGADO: Our engine stalled and when we tried starting the truck there was an explosion and she caught on fire.

Lolo says he called 911. The fear in his voice was soon replaced by shock and anger.

DISPATCHER: Is your girlfriend still on fire?
DISPATCHER: No? (laughter) OK.
CALLER: Hilarious, huh?
DISPATCHER: Sir, is your vehicle still on fire?
CALLER: I just heard you smirk (inaudible)
DISPATCHER: OK, sir, it wasn’t regarding that, OK?
CALLER: Yeah, I just heard you laugh.

But, Pima County Sheriff’s Department Captain Karl Woolridge says that comment is what sparked dispatchers to laugh.

“The people within the room are only hearing one side of the conversation and when they hear somebody suddenly make a statement to the effect of ‘Is she still on fire?’ there’s a startled response,” Woolridge said. “It’s not something you’re expecting to hear. It’s not a laughing matter, but if anything, it might be considered something of a defense mechanism by those people in the room.”

“I was just in shock,” Delgado said. “I honestly didn’t even think they took me seriously.”

The department admits a lapse in professionalism but insists this was an isolated incident.

911 dispatchers get over 1,000 calls a day. The department says eight people fill the communications room at any given time and their headsets pick up sound from all angles.

“We do feel that just on her reaction, the way she handled the call, that help was delayed,” Delgado said. “I think we could’ve gotten medical attention much faster if she wasn’t playing around on the phone, if she would’ve been on task [and] more professional about it.”

“As we’ve begun the investigation, it’s clear that within seconds, less than 15 seconds of hanging up with this man, she was on another line calling for an ambulance to be dispatched to that location,” Woolridge said.

While Delgado’s girlfriend is recovering from burns on 40 percent of her body. He says he hopes this serves as a lesson and that changes are made.

Tucson News Now asked to speak to the dispatcher herself but the department declined to identify who she is.

We do know is she is still working while the investigation is underway.

They say the communications section of the department started looking into the call before the 911 audio went public, and now viral.

Want more coverage of this story? Click here to read on at KOLD.com



  • NN

    We do know is she is still working while the investigation is underway.

    We do know is she is…. thats good that you know that…..

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see an issue with this. There are people out there who are so out of touch with reality (lawmakers) that they very well may prioritize calling 911 before dousing the flames on their loved one. She’s laughing because; for one, she sees the irony in having to ask that question and, two, out of relief that the woman was not still on fire.

  • Marie

    Oh brother…These people help everyday to everyone not just you. Rub some dirt on it and move on….the only person on this call causing issues of getting help was the caller… Obviously it wasn’t bad enough for you to just get help to you and your wife you had to cause a fight with the operator. You delayed treament not her… People need to quit complaining about EVERYTHING….get over it….who cares…maybe if you would of stopped asking why she was laughing you would of got care to your family quicker….

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