A Texas woman, now a widow, claims that local authorities never picked up the phone when she dialed 911 after her husband’s heart attack in May 2022.
Austin resident Tanya Gotcher found her husband, Casey Gotcher, collapsed on the floor at home. That is where they spent the better part of the next hour awaiting an ambulance’s arrival.
Tanya Gotcher says on May 7 her husband had a heart attack. She called 9-1-1 but says she was holding for 15 minutes. She even had her father-in-law call but her husband died that day. Still grieving the loss she's sharing her story as 9-1-1 hold times have gone up. pic.twitter.com/4Udf3gwE1H
— Ricardo Lewis (@RicardoLewisTV) October 20, 2022
Gotcher considered contacting a neighbor or heading to a local firehouse for help but ultimately opted to stay at her husband’s side. An ambulance finally did show up, but only after her father-in-law phoned emergency services in a neighboring county.
“It took 15 minutes for 9-1-1 to answer my call. I had found my husband, Casey, collapsed from a fatal heart attack,” she said in a radio ad for Travis County Judge candidate Rupal Chaudhari.
“The phone just ringing, and ringing, and ringing,” Gotcher lamented.
“When you hear the phone ring for 15 minutes, and you can’t get anybody to help you, is the worst nightmare that you could have.”
The city of Austin has a history of emergency response issues. Earlier this month, the local police department estimated more than 70 vacancies currently exist within the Emergency Communications Department.
“We just can’t find anyone to replace the people we’re losing,” said Lieutenant Kenneth Murphy who is the Director of Emergency Communications.
The aftermath of the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020 has led to an emergency personnel shortage affecting major cities across America.
Gotcher places the blame for the slow response time on the ineffectiveness of local leaders rather than the first responders.
“We could all talk, talk is cheap in my opinion unless I see. Anybody can say they’re doing it, the difference is to show me some proof and I’ll believe you,” she said.
Gotcher’s message is likely targeted at Travis County Judge Andy Brown, Chaudhari’s opponent in the upcoming election who has declined to take responsibility for the tragedy.
“Our office regularly monitors staffing across the county. Our most recent update showed our dispatch is almost at full staff,” Brown told CBS Austin.
President of the Austin EMS Associating Selena Xie was quick to rush to the defense of Judge Brown.
“County Judge Andy Brown is one of our biggest allies in expanding resources for emergency response and his focus on mental health and diversion will free up resources for life-threatening emergency calls,” Xie said.
Along with her appearance in Rupal Chaudhari’s campaign ad, Gotcher has continued to stay vocal about her husband’s story in hopes of sparking change.
“I’m doing this for us, because the next time, this could be you.”
She’s right, and we should all hope Austin finds a solution to the problem for the sake of all its citizens.