GOING QUIET: MORE STATES ARE HIDING 911 RECORDINGS FROM FAMILIES, LAWYERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

GOING QUIET: MORE STATES ARE HIDING 911 RECORDINGS FROM FAMILIES, LAWYERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC

At Rhode Island Hospital, Phillips learned that his 46-year-old brother had stopped for lunch at a Subway sandwich shop, in Cranston, when he collapsed.

The cause of death was hypertensive cardiovascular disease, according to his death certificate.

In the months since his brother’s death, Phillips — a volunteer firefighter and licensed EMT — has been trying to piece together what happened the day Scott died.

“Being an EMT,” Troy Phillips said, “you just want to know, what happened?”

But he keeps hitting a wall.

Rhode Island is one of about a dozen states that prohibit the release of 911 recordings or transcripts without the written consent of the caller or by court order. The goal generally is to protect the privacy of callers in what may be one of the most stressful moments of their lives.

But Rhode Island’s restrictive law also keeps families in the dark about how the state’s 911 system has responded to calls involving their loved ones, and it has left the public oblivious to troubling gaps in how the system is performing, according to an investigation by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica.

In March, the news organizations reported on the 2018 death of a 6-month-old baby in Warwick after a Rhode Island 911 call taker failed to give CPR instructions to the family. The lapse came to light after a family member who took part in the 911 call requested a copy of the recording.

In June, the news organizations reported on the death of Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman who collapsed while watching her son’s high school football game in Cumberland last year. Four unidentified bystanders called 911. But none of the 911 call takers recognized that Fleury was in cardiac arrest. And none of them instructed the callers to perform CPR.

The 911 recordings for Fleury were never made public. An emergency physician who treated Fleury testified about what happened during a state House committee hearing in March.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

CPR should be taught in every public school, with a certificate issued, if the kids are capable of knowing when and how to use it, by the end of Junior High School.

This, in and of itself, would save a lot of lives in this country.

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