Cleveland EMS dispatcher punished after heated 911 call: I-Team


CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered recordings that got a Cleveland EMS dispatcher punished.

The I-Team also found out this involves the same dispatcher who was punished before.

That earlier discipline came after Patricia Sifford sent an ambulance to the wrong address. The new discipline comes after what Sifford can be heard saying while handling a 911 call.

In June, a woman called 911 after a shooting on Cleveland’s east side. She said, “Yeah, can you please send an ambulance? He’s just been shot at this bar six times.”

But, as the caller turned hysterical, the dispatcher lost her patience.

Sifford asks the caller, “How old is he?” 

The caller yells back, “Just send the (expletive) ambulance.”

Then, a couple of seconds later, after more chaos on the call, Sifford says, “You can holler and scream all the (expletive) you want to, but I’m trying to help him until the paramedics get there. How old is he?”

Moments later, she added, “You’re holding up progress.”

The shooting happened on the border between Cleveland and East Cleveland. Internal investigators also pointed out what Dispatcher Sifford said while calling East Cleveland first responders.

She cursed and then said, “I can’t tell you (expletive) about it.”

City records show Sifford was suspended without pay for 15 days. She was punished for that call and comments made on another call.

The records show Sifford told internal investigators she didn’t even remember the call about the shooting.

Six months ago, she sent an ambulance to the wrong address after she’d taken a call for a medical emergency with a newborn. The incident happened as Sifford had been working as a dispatch training officer.

For that, she received a letter of reprimand and an order to go through new training.

The I-Team reached out to her for comment through the union, CARE1975. The union sent a statement, saying in part:

“CARE and Ms. Sifford agree that the comments cited in her most recent disciplinary outcome were wrong and well outside of how she, and her fellow dispatchers, normally process calls.”

The statement went on to say:

“The hardworking frontline workers of the Division of EMS—including dispatchers—have been met with an incredibly large workload during COVID as well due to a labor shortage within healthcare jobs.  As reported several times by yourself and FOX 8, the Division of EMS has met its breaking point with frequent brownouts, stagnant wages, high employee turnover and worker shortages due to COVID-related illnesses.  As such, many of these workers have met their breaking point and are clearly being ‘burned out’ by the current broken system within Cleveland.  With the recent loss of her mother, paired with the above-mentioned reasons, Ms. Sifford has fell victim to this such burnout and offers her apologies.”

The discipline papers also say Sifford has been ordered to go through counseling, and the union also welcomes that.

Finally, CARE1975 usually has been silent as the I-Team has exposed breakdowns in Cleveland EMS in dispatch or in response times on calls. However, here, the union also added strong comments about the need to fix the system.

The statement also included:

“While cities across the nation offer incentive pay, increased wages, sign-on bonuses, etc., the city of Cleveland has offered nothing meaningful to retain or recruit employees for the division of EMS, Fire or Police.  CARE looks forward to a new Mayor and administration.  We have met with all the Mayoral candidates who have been receptive to the needs of our members along with how our division can be improved to better serve the citizens of Cleveland. The replacement of this current administration will certainly be a breath of fresh air and can’t come soon enough.”

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