Man calls Phoenix Fire to report a man down and is surprised by the department's response

A man down at a bus stop in Laveen last week prompted Eric Amadio to call 911.

"My guess he was either dead or overdosing," he said.

Amadio, who lives in the area, says he was eventually connected to a Phoenix Fire dispatcher.

"The fire department got details, and then they said, ‘Well, we’re not going to go out unless you go and check on him to see if he’s actually in need.' I was shocked," Amadio said.

Phoenix Fire says especially in the heat of summer, they get flooded with calls of a person down, and that the response is simple. They go.


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However, Phoenix Fire Capt. Todd Keller explains, "Sometimes, the dispatchers will ask these people that are calling, saying, ‘Can you reach out to them? Can you maybe yell at them? If you feel safe, if you feel comfortable. Ask them if they’re just sleeping, or if they actually need help.' We get a lot of this in our vagrancy population."

Amadio says several people were standing around and that’s why he hesitated to help the man.

"If he'd been alone, if this had been a little old man who fell over, I would have been all over it, of course. That's my duty as a human being. But, it's not my duty as a human being to put my own life in danger. That's what police and fire departments are for," he said.

Capt. Keller explains more about the department's role in these types of calls.

"Sometimes the demand for our services outpaces our capacity. So, in situations, you going up and asking this person if they need help, if they just want to sleep or what their situation is, that gives the 911 system, our dispatches, a little more information," he said.

Phoenix Fire says most calls of an unconscious person end like one last month in Phoenix – the man was fine and refused any help.

The department says it continues to work on new deployment strategies to deal with this challenge.

"It's a tough call for the fire department. It's a tough call for the city to put the fire department in where they can't go to check on people who look like they're dead," Amadio said.