- State police are looking for a male who impersonated a first-responder during a radio transmission to 911, causing a delayed response to a patient.
"I'm so angry that it happened," said Anita Thompson, director of operations for Waymart Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
The incident happened about 1:45 p.m. Sunday when the Wayne County Communications Center dispatched Waymart ambulance to a residence in Dyberry Township, where there was a 78-year-old woman with lower back pain.
The male suspect completed a radio transmission to the center on Volunteer Drive in Berlin Township, saying he was a crew member with the ambulance company and would be responding to the call, according to a news release issued Wednesday from state police at Honesdale.
"This unknown male was not affiliated with Waymart Ambulance and his identify is not known at this time," Cpl. Derek D. Felsman reported, adding that the incident led to a "significant delay" in patient care.
An ambulance from White Mills eventually responded, but Thompson estimated the delay could have been over an hour.
The victim's condition was unclear Thursday.
Anyone with information is urged to call Felsman at 570-253-7126.
Felsman said he had no idea why someone would pull such a stunt.
"Yeah, it's real strange," he said.
It's also upsetting and has Waymart ambulance on high alert, Thompson said.
"I am very, very angry," Thompson said. She said she takes the prank - if that is what it was - personally partly because she's been with the company for nearly three decades.
She added that they're baffled as to why someone would do such a thing and she has never before experienced something like this.
"I just want it stopped," Thompson said, adding that the stunt could have had deadly results if the patient had heart problems.
Emergency crews in Honesdale and White Mills were on other calls at the time, so 911 dispatched Waymart, though the message was intercepted.
When there was no response to the woman's home, she contacted 911 again, and 911 contacted Waymart.
Thompson told the dispatcher she had not received the initial call. She then went to the ambulance building and the ambulance was there.
Thompson said she was "persistent" with 911 that Waymart had not received the first call. She added that neither the communications center nor the ambulance is at fault.
"I'm positive I didn't have a crew out," Thompson said.
The dispatcher said, "Oh my God. Someone told us you were going," Thompson said.
Thompson said the company has been doing a lot of investigating to see if the suspect could have been a disgruntled former worker, but has yet to come up with anything.
She also said emergency agencies have listened to the recording to see if anyone recognized the voice of the perpetrator, who said only, "Waymart 1 responding."
Some think they might recognize the voice, but no positive identification could be made, Thompson said.
The ambulance director also said they will be changing the combination on the building's door and are thinking of installing surveillance cameras.
"We don't know if someone could have used our radios," she said.
Officials at the communications center could not be reached Thursday.