Man says Detroit 911 operator hung up on family as wife stopped breathing

When you call 911 and say your wife needs an ambulance, you expect them to respond quickly, not hang up on you. However, when Jerome Fowlke's wife collapsed, 911 was no help.

After his wife collapsed, Fowlke called 911 for an ambulance. He says the dispatcher was rude and accused him of making a prank call but Detroit Police say that's not true.

Wednesday night, Jerome Fowlkes and his family were home when it happened. His 41-year-old wife, who suffers from blood clots in her lungs, suddenly stopped breathing

"I was scared. I didn't want my kids to see all this and all three are in the room," Fowlke said. "It (was) just chaos in there so I'm trying to keep her together. Next thing you know, she stopped breathing."

He knew he had to think fast so he had his son call 911 while he tried to help revive his wife. In that instant, an already chaotic scene turned into a catastrophe. 

"I grabbed the phone from him. (I was) trying to ask them how to do CPR and the operator said 'this is a prank. I'm terminating the call,'" Fowlke said.

He said the dispatcher hung up, leaving Jerome stunned. He had his daughter call 911 and they went through the process again.

"I gave her our address and they said they just got that call and I said 'Yes, they just hung up on me'. She said that wasn't her that hung up but she was going to help us," Da'jana Fowlke said.

Jerome wasn't going to take any chances. He and his son grabbed his wife, put her in the car, and drove to the hospital. The dispatcher canceled the ambulance. 

Detroit Police Assistant Chief James White said he didn't like how the call went down but says the dispatcher never accused the family of prank calling. He said she did terminate the call and likely do so too quickly. 

"She could have been a little bit more sensitive, towards the end," White said. "I think her last words were 'no response, call terminated' which is part of their protocol. However, under those circumstances, with everything being as heightened as it was, I do have a little bit of concern with that. We're going to be opening an investigation and looking at that issue."

Ashante made it to the hospital and is in stable condition but Jerome still feels that the dispatcher needed to handle the call much differently and has filed a complaint with the DPD.

"You are supposed to be professional. For her to do something like that, I don't think she needs to be working there, period," Jerome said.

FOX 2 has tried to get a copy of the 911 but police have not released it as of 5:00 p.m. Thursday. Around 4:30 p.m., FOX 2's Taryn Asher was able to listen to the call. She verified that the dispatcher did not accuse the family of making a prank but the dispatcher was rude and ended the call. 

White says they're looking into it and the department will be transparent.
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