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Thursday
May092013

911 Dispatcher Says Brain Tumor Caused His Mistake

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A 911 dispatcher in Miami Beach, Fla., who let 14 minutes go by before sending help to a dying man, says he made the mistake because he has a brain tumor.

Now, he could lose his job -- and his health insurance.

“I’m not a monster who sat behind the radio and intentionally let somebody else die,” the dispatcher, 51-year-old Damian Janee, told CBS4 in Miami Beach.

At 9:12 a.m. on March 5, Janee got a call from a woman who said her husband had fallen and was unable to move, according to a city document obtained by ABC News.  Janee designated the call a “priority 1″ and assigned a fire rescue team in the computer system, but he never made the radio call to send the team to the man’s home.

At 9:26 a.m., 14 minutes later, Janee sent the rescue team, but he falsified his dispatch report by writing that he did this at 9:13 a.m., according to the document.

The rescue crew got to the 911 caller’s home at 9:36 a.m., but the man was pronounced dead at 9:41 a.m.

Janee told CBS4 that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor after he was suspended.  He said the diagnosis may account for his “mental lapses.”

The city says Janee, who served the city for 10 years, had been reprimanded before this incident when he left the 911 call line open for 37 minutes in October 2012 because he was “surfing” the Internet, and again in February 2012, both times blocking the line from incoming emergency callers, according to the city document.

The city intended to remove Janee from duty, and a hearing had been scheduled for May 7, but it was postponed after Janee’s diagnosis to allow his lawyer more time to prepare, Janee’s local union president, Richard McKinnon, told ABC News.  A new date has not been set.

“I don’t think he’s going to be in any shape any time soon to be going to that,” McKinnon said, adding that it means Janee will keep his insurance for the time being.  “He’s really faced with a big crisis, which is why we’re very grateful to the city when presented with the information that it decided to hold off on the predetermination hearing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio