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FIRST ON 3: 911 dispatcher fired for sharing caller's personal information on Facebook

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Former Catoosa County 911 Dispatcher Holly Dowis. Former Catoosa County 911 Dispatcher Holly Dowis.

A Catoosa County 911 dispatcher was fired Friday morning for sharing on Facebook the private information of at least one person who called 911.

Holly Dowis was terminated Friday following an internal investigation into her conduct while on the job. 

A Channel 3 investigation found Dowis sent a screenshot to Facebook friends in a private chat of one man’s call to 911 requesting emergency assistance.

Sixty-year-old Ringgold resident Ron Darnell called Catoosa County dispatch on December 23rd when he had a blood clot which resulted in an “embarrassing” medical problem.

“I had a blood clot break loose and come out of my body,” he said. “I called to get emergency help and I almost died that day.”

The 911 dispatch screen detailing his call included his name, phone number, address and exact medical complaint. Dowis then took a photo of all that personal information and posted it to a Facebook group chat with some friends.

"A call I just took," Dowis wrote.

Darnell fears he’s not the only victim.

“If they put out mine, how many others have they put out of other people that don't know it and just making fun of people?”

Dowis has worked with the county since 2007 and was named communications officer of the year in 2013.

“911 is an organization that we must rely on to keep information confidential and to communicate that information to law enforcement officials only and she has violated the public trust,” said Chattanooga Attorney Stuart James.

County Manager Jim Walker said Dowis was fired for misconduct and violating federal and county rules.

The county learned of the allegations Tuesday, placed Dowis on administrative leave Wednesday, concluded its investigation Thursday and officially terminated her Friday morning at 11 a.m.

Walker said Dowis had committed similar offenses in the past, though not to this severity, and had been issued warnings.

Darnell told Channel 3 that her losing her job is not enough. He wants to see criminal charges filed against Dowis, which Chattanooga attorney Stuart James said is not far-fetched.

“There's this thing called HIPAA that guarantees our medical records remain private and that they are private from other people seeing those records,” Stuart James said. “What I see here is not only did she discuss the medical condition the man was suffering from but also named his name, put his address of the Internet and it was a huge privacy concern for him, a huge HIPAA violation, and a huge problem for the 911 center down in Georgia.”

James said criminal charges would be up to a district attorney. But he said in terms of a civil lawsuit, there are issues of a man’s right to privacy, HIPAA violations, and possible libel and slander.

Channel 3 reached out to Dowis and left her a voicemail asking for her side of the story. She has not returned that call as of early Friday afternoon.

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