The evidence mounts that the city’s 911 emergency response system is plagued by potentially life-threatening miscommunications — with Mayor Bloomberg’s public safety credentials hanging in the balance.
The Daily News’ Juan Gonzalez reported last week on the case of Ariel Russo, the four-year-old Manhattan girl who was fatally struck by a careening SUV. He revealed that 4 minutes, 18 seconds has elapsed between the time police called for an ambulance and the time the Emergency Medical Services dispatched one.
Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, whose department oversees EMS, responded vehemently, attributing the delay to human error rather than to any fault in a new $88 million computerized dispatching system that was supposed to speed and coordinate responses by police, fire and EMS.
Cassano stated that a dispatcher had missed the ambulance call on her computer screen:
“It wasn’t picked up by the person that should have been reading that screen. There were no technology glitches,” Cassano said. “(The worker) just failed to read the screen. We’ll deal with that. . . . Their screen should never be left unread, because these are lifesaving calls.”
Now, Gonzalez reports that, had the 911 system been operating properly, the police call for an ambulance — this was classified as a high-priority “relay” call — should have shown up on the computer screens in front of a couple dozen dispatchers, as well as on a large video monitor where supervisors track calls.
Further, all the computer screens highlight a relay call after three minutes if EMS fails to dispatch an ambulance. The highlighting is meant to place everyone in the call center on notice that an overdue relay call demands action.
There are two possibilities: The call failed to appear on any computer screen for those four-plus minutes, as the dispatcher has told associates; or everyone on duty failed to act on the police department’s repeated requests for an ambulance.
Cassano’s spokesman goes with the second explanation, which amounts to admitting massive personnel failures, although the spokesman insists that the delay falls squarely on the single dispatcher primarily responsible for the call.
None of this hangs convincingly together, with all the doubts compounded by Gonzalez’ previous reports on outages in the $88 million upgrade. They lead fairly to critical questions: Are technical failures preventing some 911 calls from moving seamlessly from the NYPD to EMS? And why would a roomful of dispatchers and supervisors let urgent calls to aid a semi-conscious child go unanswered for so long?
Follow them out and the ultimate question becomes: How safe are we?
Actually follow these questions out and the ultimate question becomes, why isn't Bloomberg being held accountable for this mess?
It's Boxer Day all over again, only this time the storm never ends and the next 911 call put into the system may take a couple of hours to make it to where it's supposed to go.
Bloomberg is very worried about his legacy and keeping his policies going long after he's gone.
Meanwhile we have this 911 system reminding us of his failures with so many other outside consultant contracts, like CityTime, only this time it's a matter of life and death.
He lives a charmed life, though.
Can't you see him failing to fix this system, indeed, even acknowledge the problems, then have some major catastrophe happen under the next mayor and pass the blame off on her/him?
Just the way they're trying to pass the blame off for the Ariel Russo tragedy onto the single dispatcher.
Come on, Mike, fix the system so that God forbid something bad happens, New Yorkers can get the emergency help they need when the need it.
Again I state with all candor the mental competency of the mayor needs to be questioned. God forbid you are correct and the system does not prevent a major tragedy, perhaps if that day comes Bloomberg's mental state will be questioned. I pray it does not come to that.ReplyDelete
His mental competency is strangled by his ego which refuses to admit any error ever. He really is all ego - note the BLOOMBERG on everything he owns. Pathetic. Only this time, he's going to cost lives (and may have already with the 4 year old girl.)Delete
Mayor Bloomberg's legacy is a solid toxic core of hypocrisy and scapegoat meat with a twist of lying added for flavor.ReplyDelete
That's the best description I've heard. I hope you don't mind if I use this.Delete
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