DALLAS, TX — A man who pleaded over the telephone for the fire department to send an ambulance for his stepmother is seeking $300,000 damages because a nurse admonished him for "cursing" and demanded to speak to the woman, who died before help arrived.

Eight minutes elapsed before an ambulance was dispatched, and the woman, 60-year-old Lillian Boff, was pronounced dead by paramedics at her home, officials said.

Television station KDFW on Monday broadcast a tape of the emergency call that Larry Boff, 40, made January 5 when his stepmother became ill. The station said it obtained the tape recording from the Dallas Fire Department under the Texas Open Records Act. "Before she dies will you please tell me what the hell you want?"

The nurse, dispatcher Billie Myrick, was placed on administrative leave with pay for one month after the incident, but returned to her job two days later after being counseled on departmental policies, Capt. Bill Bowles told the Dallas Times Herald.

Jones said the fire department uses nurses to screen calls to determine emergencies.

These are transcripts of calls to the emergency number made by Boff and his roommate:

Nurse: And what is the problem there?
Boff: I don't know, if I knew I wouldn't be ...
Nurse: Sir, would you answer my questions, please? What is the problem?
Boff: She's having difficulty breathing.
Nurse: How old is this person?
Boff: She's 60 years old.
Nurse: Where is she now?
Boff: She is in the bedroom right now.
Nurse: Can I speak with her please?
Boff: No, you can't. She seems like she's incoherent.
Nurse: Why is she incoherent?
Boff: How the hell do I know!
Nurse: Sir, don't curse me.
Boff: Well, I don't care. You stupid ... questions you're asking. Give me someone who knows what they're doing. Why don't you send an ambulance out here?
Nurse: Sir, we only come out on life-threatening emergencies.
Boff: Well, this is a life-threatening emergency.
Nurse: Hold on, sir. I'll let you speak with my super ... uh, officer.
Supervisor: Hello?
Boff: What do I have to do to get an ambulance out to this house?
Supervisor: You have to answer the nurse's questions.
Boff: All right! What are they, before she dies will you please tell me what the hell you want?
Supervisor: Well, I tell you what, if you curse one more time I'm gonna hang up the phone.
Boff: Well, I'll tell you what. what if this were your mother in there and can't breathe, what would you do?
Supervisor: You answer that nurse's questions and we'll get you some help.
Boff: She's having difficulty breathing she cannot talk.
Supervisor: OK, she's back on the air. Don't you cuss her again.
Nurse: OK, sir, I need to talk to her still.
Boff: You can't. She is incoherent.
Nurse: Let me talk to her sir.
Boff: (To roommate) Please tell her she's incoherent and cannot talk. (To nurse) She cannot talk at all.
Nurse: Why?
Boff: Well, how am I supposed to know?
Nurse: Well give her the phone.
Boff: (To roommate) Give her the phone in there. Give her the phone. I know she can't talk but they want to talk to her. But she can't talk. (To nurse) Forget it. I'll call the main hospital around here all right?
Nurse: OK. Bye-bye.

Boff's roommate placed a second call to the emergency number.

Nurse: Are you the same man I was talking to earlier?
Fleming: No, that was my roommate.
Nurse: Uh huh. Why can't I talk to the lady?
Fleming: She cannot talk.
Nurse: Why?
Fleming: She's in ... she's just out of it. In fact, he's going in there now. He thinks she's dead.
Nurse: What do you mean by 'out of it?'
Fleming: She is incoherent.
Boff: She's dead now. Thank you, ma'am! Would you please send an ambulance? Would you please send an ambulance here?


The career of nurse dispatcher Billy Jean Myrick took a quick tailspin as a result of the publicity surrounding Lillian Boff's death. The day after this and many articles hit the wires she was reassigned to desk duty. Meanwhile, Myrick complained that public outrage — including motorists driving by her residence crying "murderer, murderer" — had imprisoned her in her own home. To top it off, the head of the Texas Nursing Association filed a complaint against her.

Myrick was finally fired ten days later. Joining her was the assistant chief in charge of the department, who retired. Her supervisor, a captain, was demoted to lieutenant, and other employees involved in the case were reprimanded. Myrick complained people drove by her home crying "Murderer, Murderer!"

By September, as a result of the complaint filed by the nursing association, the State Board of Nurse Examiners revoked her license.

It came to light that Myrick had been the subject of two similar complaints, but through it all Myrick insisted her actions were consistent with fire department policy.

Relatives of two women who died the same week the news of Boff's death broke complained that they had to argue with Fire Department nurses screening emergency calls and that the response of the ambulances had been too slow. The Dallas Fire Department promised it would review its policy of having nurses screen emergency calls.