ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque city councilor is questioning fire rescue officials about how they handle calls about a person lying on the street or in a public place.
Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn says she’s concerned after learning about a call that was dispatched to AFR on May 31. A woman called about a man in the street that looked disoriented and ill. The dispatcher then asked the woman to go up to the man and ask if he needed help.
At a city council meeting, Fiebelkorn had questions for AFR’s chief. “Are we asking citizens of Albuquerque who call 911 for help to go intervene with people that they do not know? There may be a mental health problem, there may be a drug addiction problem. Are we really asking people to walk up to strangers and interact with them on behalf of the city when they’re trying to find help for this person?” said Fiebelkorn.
AFR Chief Gene Gallegos responded by saying there is a list of questions that dispatchers have to ask when taking a call, including “have you talked to the person?” In this case, he says the dispatcher was new.
Today, KRQE News 13 spoke with AFR Deputy Chief Emily Jaramillo who says it’s important to get as much information on a situation to determine what kind of help is needed.
Jaramillo adds that the dispatcher’s intentions were not to put the caller in danger. She explains, “I know that, from kind of following all of this, that the concern was, you know, we’re, they’re asking us to do their job. That’s never our intention, we want the public to feel safe. And if they say, ‘I don’t feel safe stopping, I’m just worried about this person,’ then that’s fine.”
According to Jaramillo, APD and Albuquerque Community Safety were called to respond to the case in question. AFR says the department sees roughly 10,000 “down and out” calls a year. Deputy Chief Jaramillo says numbers have gone down since partnering with other city departments to respond – leaving resources for more serious situations.