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9-1-1 Dispatcher Gave Bad Advice In Deadly Crash

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A San Diego 9-1-1 dispatcher gave some bad medical advice to a caller who was helping a pedestrian who had just been badly struck by a motorcycle earlier this week. The pedestrian died shortly after and authorities have now opened an internal investigation into that call.

A motorcycle crashed into the pedestrian, who's been identified as 49-year-old Scott Harold Winterbottom, around 11:20 a.m. on Monday while he was crossing Palm Avenue near 13th Street from a center divide, reported U-T San Diego. Winterbottom's leg was severed and was suffering from internal injuries.

A bystander, Anthony Rabaya, tried to help Winterbottom and used a belt as a tourniquet on his leg to stop the bleeding. It was a gut reaction for Rabaya because of his military training and instincts, he told NBC Los Angeles.

However, when Rabaya's girlfriend called 9-1-1, they were given instructions to take off that tourniquet. Here is that 9-1-1 conversation:

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Caller: "My boyfriend put a belt around his leg because it's bleeding." Dispatcher: "OK, all right, so they put a tourniquet on his leg?"

Caller: "Uh, no... uh, a belt. We've got the belt around because his leg is chopped off."

Dispatcher: "OK, we need to take that belt off. We don't want to tourniquet it."

Caller (talking to boyfriend): "Take the belt off, she says. Take it off."

Rabaya didn't agree with the dispatcher's instructions but complied. Firefighters who arrived at the scene reapplied the tourniquet on the injured man. Winterbottom was then rushed to the UC San Diego Medical Center, where he died at 12:15 p.m.

"It's been bothering me because I thought I did the right thing by putting the tourniquet on, and when I was told to take it off… yeah, it's been bothering me," Rabaya told 10 News.

City of San Diego EMS Medical Director Dr. Jim Dunford told NBC Los Angeles that he's had a policy in place for the last two years, where they've trained dispatchers to tell callers to "leave [the tourniquet] alone until a firefighter can get there and determine whether it should continue to be there."

The San Diego Fire-Rescue department is investigating the case to figure out how or why the dispatcher made that decision. The dispatcher is still on duty, though, while the case is being investigated.

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