BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An 87-year-old woman in California collapsed on the floor - but a nurse at the senior living facility refused to help.
"Yeah, we can't do CPR at this facility…" the nurse said.
"Ok, then hand the phone to the passerby. If you can't do it, I need, hand it to the passerby, I'll have her do it. Or if you've got any citizens there, I'll have them do it," the dispatcher responded.
"No, no, it's not …" the nurse said.
"Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone, please. This woman's not breathing enough. She's going to die if we don't get this started," the dispatcher responded.
By the time medics arrived - it was too late. The facility's policy prevented the nurse from performing CPR.
And according to Erie County Emergency Management officials, local dispatchers have experienced the same problem with some local senior facilities.
The rules vary. According to the New York State Health Department, skilled nursing facilities, as medical centers, are required to perform CPR in a similar situation. But assisted living centers and independent senior living centers can create their own policies.
It is difficult to listen to the exchange between a 911 dispatcher and a nurse in California, with the life of an 87-year-old woman in the balance. Especially for those who have found themselves in a situation where they've potentially saved lives.
"At anytime, when I was in the building or out in the community, if I came upon someone who didn't have a heartbeat, and wasn't breathing, I would immediately start CPR," said Kristin Crandall, a licensed nurse and administrator of The Blocher Homes in Williamsville.
She hopes what happened in California is the exception and not the norm. She says the policy at Blocher Homes is to call 911 and render help any way possible.
Two other local senior living facilities, Asbury Homes in Getzville and Greenfield in Lancaster, say they have the same policy.
"I think it's just human nature. You want to be a Good Samaritan and do anything you can to save the life of someone," said Lori Hannon, Senior Living Director of Greenfield.
But according to the New York Department of Health, it's up to assisted living and independent living facilities to create their own policies for these situations.
"We don't have a policy or procedure to do CPR. We don't have a policy or procedure to not do CPR. Like I said, if anyone was in distressed we would call 911 and anyone in the facility trained to react would follow with whatever training they had," Crandall said.
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