911 recordings in Phoenix drownings show callers panicked, reluctant to conduct CPR

The 911 recordings were released in last weeks drownings that claimed the lives of two Valley teenagers. In both scenarios, bystanders called 911, but operators had to push them to conduct life-saving measures.


Friends called for help when 17-year-old Angeline Davis was found at the bottom of a pool during a birthday party.


"I think she's already dead," the call told the 911 operator. The dispatcher tells her to start doing CPR.


Caller: "She's doing CPR but says she's not responding back when she's doing it.”

Dispatch: “That's okay, just keep doing it until the fire department gets there to take over.”


A second recording sheds light on the moments when 13-year-old Osman Abdi was found floating in a pool. He was seen by neighbors hopping a fence to swim and they later found he drowned.


"We got him out of the water, but I think he's dead" a man described over the phone.


The dispatcher is heard pleading with the man to start CPR and says he’ll talk them through the process.


The caller is adamant that no one knows how to do CPR and just wants police to be sent to help.


Caller: "There's no one here to do CPR.”

Dispatch: “That's why I’m going to tell them how to do it. We're wasting time now, make a decision.”

Caller: “He's dead, he's dead!”      

Dispatcher: “No, I don't accept that, hand the phone to somebody else."



Rae Kell has been a dispatcher for 24 years and has worked for Phoenix Fire Dispatch for the last ten years.


She says convincing someone to start CPR is a common struggle after a drowning.


 "They might think the person is beyond saving; we don't even want to guess that. Every second counts," she said.


She says reasons range from people being afraid they'll do it wrong or not wanting to do mouth-to-mouth. Kell says simply doing compressions is better than doing nothing.


Others are afraid of legal trouble. At a time when emotions are running high, different instincts can take over -- panic.


“Drowning calls are often panicked and it’s our job to calm them down and keep them focused," said Kell.


Arizona's Good Samaritan Law is meant to protect people who "do the right thing" and try to save a life.


The Glendale Fire Department showed ABC15 how a person can conduct CPR, but it is still important to become CPR-certified. Fire departments and other organizations offer CPR-certification courses.


Visit heart.org to find an upcoming certification class near you.

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