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Abrams v. City of Chicago

March 28, 2003

PATRICIA ABRAMS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF GEORGIA SABRINA WHITE, DECEASED, AND DOROTHY BROWN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, AND HENRIETTA YOUNG, GREGORY JONES, DEFENDANTS.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE KATHY FLANAGAN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Campbell

Unpublished

Plaintiff Patricia Abrams, individually and as the special administrator of the estate of Georgia Sabrina White, appeals an order of the circuit court of Cook County granting summary judgment to the defendant City of Chicago (City) in a personal injury action. Plaintiff Dorothy Brown did not sue the City; she and defendants Henrietta Young and Gregory Jones are not parties to this appeal.

The record on appeal shows that in deposition testimony, plaintiff claimed that at 1:30 and 1:40 a.m. on November 18, 1997, she telephoned the City's 911 service, asking for an ambulance because she had gone into labor with her seventh pregnancy. Plaintiff testified that she told the operators that her contractions were 10 minutes apart and that she did not have a vehicle. According to plaintiff, the operators told her it was not an emergency case and hung up on her.

A Chicago Fire Department (CFD) event query record shows that a call was received from plaintiff's address at 1:47 a.m. on November 18, 1997, which lasted 1 minute and 22 seconds, was handled by a person with the initials "VH," and given a priority of 1. Vicki Hernandez, a licensed emergency medical technician and paramedic, testified that she was the "VH" referred to in the CFD record. Hernandez had been in training with the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) since April 1997. Hernandez had no specific recollection of the 1:47 a.m. telephone call.

Hernandez stated that a priority 1 code meant an ambulance was to be sent. Hernandez also noted that the CFD record showed that the disposition of the call was "Advised," which meant that an ambulance was not going to be sent and would be a priority 3 call. According to Hernandez, she was not responsible for entering the priority code; this was supposed to be done by the computer based on the disposition.

Hernandez testified that OEC used a system of flip cards to determine whether to send an ambulance in response to a telephone call. Hernandez believed she had a good knowledge of flip card No. 26 - the card relating to pregnancy, childbirth and miscarriage - on November 18, 1997. The record shows that flip card No. 26 provided in part as follows:

"In general, primagravida patients (initial pregnancy) progress through labor much slower than multigravida (second-plus pregnancy). Therefore labor pains two minutes apart in a third pregnancy are considered more urgent than in a first pregnancy. When pains are less than two minutes apart in first pregnancy or less than five minutes apart in second-plus pregnancy, birth is considered imminent.

NOTE: Presentation of the cord, hands, or feet is a dire emergency. Often the only chance for survival of the infant is at the hospital.

WHEN IN DOUBT - SEND

KEY QUESTIONS / PRE-ARRIVAL INSTRUCTIONS

1. Hemorrhage or not? / a. DO NOT try to prevent birth.

2. Pain or not? / b. DO NOT try to cross legs.

3. Frequency of pains? (How many Minutes apart? How long?) / c. DO NOT sit on toilet. breaths with pains.

4. Months pregnant? (Trimester?) / d. Lay down ...


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