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DISNEYLAND CHANGES ITS 911 POLICY.

Byline: Danielle Herubin and Tony Saavedra Staff Writers

ANAHEIM - Disneyland has instructed ride attendants to directly call 911 in case of an emergency, a major change in policy just weeks after a Santa Clarita boy was critically injured on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.

The change was outlined in a memo distributed resortwide on Oct. 7, dated two weeks after the incident that injured Brandon Zucker.

In case of an emergency, park employees are directed to dial 911 directly unless they are using a radio. Before, employees called a central Disneyland communications center, which in turn pushed an emergency button that dialed directly into the Anaheim Fire Department.

The speed with which the paramedics were called to the scene has become an issue, because records indicate almost five minutes elapsed between the time Zucker fell out of the ride and paramedics were called. Disney's emergency procedures also were at issue in a 1998 incident that killed a tourist.

Despite the timing of the memo, Disney spokesman Ray Gomez said the new emergency procedure change was not related to the Roger Rabbit incident.

``This is a process that has been in the works in preparation for the opening of the expanded resort,'' Gomez said, referring to Disney's California Adventure, which will open Feb. 8. ``We meet with (Anaheim fire officials) regularly to review procedures.''

Gomez said most internal park calls to 911 will be routed to the communications center. Any pay phone calls by employees will use the regular outside 911 line. One of the biggest changes Disney outlined in the memo is a direction to employees to use a public pay phone if necessary: ``Dial extension 911, state your full name, location and nature of emergency, stay on the phone until you are instructed to hang up,'' the memo instructed. Employees are then directed to call their manager or assistant manager as soon as possible.

The information is revealed as questions arise over whether Disney failed to follow its own internal emergency procedures, or if its own plans or training were inadequate to respond to such an incident.

Gomez said Disney believes its employees followed procedures ``and did everything they are trained to do.''

Richard Stephens, a spokesman for Cal-OSHA, which is investigating the incident, said the agency is looking at how Disney handled the emergency and whether it has an adequate plan for emergencies.

Brandon Zucker, 4, is still in a coma with internal injuries nearly one month after the incident on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. One of the concerns about the incident is the perceived delay for help to arrive. Doctors are uncertain about whether the boy has suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen to his brain during crucial minutes between the incident and the arrival of paramedics.

Stephens said Disney has provided a computer-tracked log of when the incident occurred, setting the time at 10:13 p.m. and 56 seconds. Paramedics were called at 10:19 p.m. and 7 seconds, according to Roger Smith, an operations manager at the Anaheim Fire Department. He added that paramedics arrived at the scene by 10:23 p.m., which sets the time between the incident and the arrival of help at about nine minutes.

It is unclear how much longer it took to extricate the boy from under the ride and begin emergency procedures. Smith, a former paramedic, said the Fire Department's response time was ``excellent,'' but added that any delay at all for a critically injured person counts.

Several witnesses at the scene complained to police that there was a too lengthy delay before paramedics arrived. One witness, Gregory Kammerer, was so angry he left the scene and went to complain to Disney officials at the city hall in the park.

Disneyland has been criticized in the past for its handling of accident scenes. On Dec. 24, 1998, a man was killed in an accident with the tall ship Columbia when a metal cleat snapped off the ship and hit Luan Phi Dawson, a Washington tourist, in the head. Two others were injured.

Disneyland cleaned up the scene before Anaheim police arrived. The criticism led to a full review of accident procedures at every Disney ride. Disney reinstated a lead foreman to nearly every ride, and the Anaheim police now station an officer in the park.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 21, 2000
Words:722
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