911 call about vehicle fire leads to jurisdiction confusion

Jason Gorham said he waited about 30 minutes as dispatchers transferred him repeatedly between several agencies in two states

By FireRescue1 Staff

SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn.  — A driver who called 911 when his vehicle caught fire said he was put on hold and transferred multiple times between several agencies in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

WKRN reported that Jason Gorham called 911 as soon as he got to safety after noticing his car was on fire.

"I noticed smoke coming through my vent and the floor and red sparks were coming through my vent as well,” he said.

Gorham said he was “transferred several times” and waited around 30 minutes while his car continued to burn.

"I was transferred several times from one county to the next, they couldn't figure out whose jurisdiction it was, the car was actually engulfed in flames," Gorham said. "They should honestly just send someone to you. And not keep transferring you to repeat the story and repeat the story.”

Sumner County Emergency Communications Center director Rhonda Lea said she doesn’t have any record of Gorham’s call coming into their center, but that it’s “concerning” that he was transferred between several agencies in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

"I think it needs to be looked into because maybe there was some kind of little glitch. But things like this do happen when a cellphone and cell tower are involved. Those cellphones are going to hit those towers. They're going to go to whatever place is the closest, or not as busy," Lea said.

Lea said Gorham’s call was put on hold by a Macon County dispatcher, and then transferred by another Macon County dispatcher to an automated number at the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department and did not wait until the call was properly transferred before hanging up.

Lea added that Sumner County ECC only heard about the call when a 911 official from Kentucky notified them.

"We got the call from Allen county we put it in our CAD. Made a call for service and sent the fire department as soon as we could," she said.

Lea said the Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene 10 minutes after they were dispatched.

“I think when you call someone like 911, it's upon them at that point to get you help. I did my duty. Someone should automatically dispatch someone to you and not transfer you and transfer you, so you can find the right town,” Gorham said. “If that's the case, every town should have their own number not a generalized 911."

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