When Curtis Mitchell first called 911, he calmly told a dispatcher he needed an ambulance because of severe stomach pain.
Thirty hours and 10 calls later, Mitchell’s girlfriend frantically told the dispatcher that he wasn’t breathing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
"Oh God, oh God, I've been trying to get an ambulance over here for three days," Sharon Edge sobbed over the phone, according to the newspaper.
When paramedics finally arrived at the 50-year-old’s home on the morning of Feb. 7, he was dead.
"I sat up here with him, watching him die," Edge said Tuesday, after city officials apologized and promised to make changes in emergency response.
"They didn't do their jobs like they were supposed to.”
The reason for the delayed response? Snow-covered roads, poor communication and more than double the average volume of calls at the Pennsylvania 911 center, due to last week’s crippling snowstorms.
Of the 10 phone requests made by Mitchell and his girlfriend for an ambulance, emergency vehicles were within blocks of his home three times—once so close that Edge could see the ambulance lights from her porch—but did not make contact with him. EMTs asked twice if Mitchell could walk to an intersection, but he was in too much pain.
"We should have gotten there," Public Safety Director Michael Huss said. "It's that simple."