Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bloomberg's Vaunted New 911 System Turning Into A Nightmare

From the Daily News:

GLITCHES and repeated crashes in the city’s new 911 computer dispatch system appear to have delayed emergency responders during several life-and-death situations this week — possibly even in the crash that killed 4-year-old Ariel Russo.

Ariel died Tuesday when a 17-year-old unlicensed driver who was fleeing police rammed his parents’ SUV into the girl and her grandmother on an upper West Side street corner at about 8:15 a.m.

Logs of 911 calls obtained by the Daily News, as well as interviews with emergency responders, show that it took an unusually long 4 minutes and 18 seconds from the time of the first request for an ambulance from police at the scene to a 911 operator, until the time an ambulance was finally dispatched. Once FDNY and EMS dispatchers received and acknowledged the transmission, it took 3 minutes and 52 seconds to dispatch an ambulance and for it to arrive at the scene.

What is clear is that from the time of the crash until the ambulance’s arrival — roughly eight minutes — cops from the 24th Precinct, including a lieutenant at the scene, radioed 911 four different times in increasingly desperate attempts to get Ariel medical assistance.

In the lieutenant’s last call from the scene, at 8:21 a.m., the cop said Ariel was “semiconscious.”
“Rush EMS to location,” the lieutenant pleaded.

She was still alive, but no one knows if she could have been saved.

“I don’t know how this could happen,” Ariel’s grandmother, Ledy Russo, 61, said Thursday night. “People were saying, ‘Where was the ambulance?’ It took a long time.”

Insiders who work with the new computer system blamed the technology.

“Four minutes is a long time to take down a call,” conceded a 911 supervisor, “but the public doesn’t understand the problems we’re having with this new dispatch system.”

“When you’re trying to type in information, your computer begins buffering, and you then have to wait for 30 seconds or even a minute before you can use it again,” the supervisor explained. “That’s okay if it’s my computer at home, but not okay for a system this important.”

NYPD brass at the main 911 call center in downtown Brooklyn have taken to urging telephone operators to periodically reboot or refresh their computers to avoid the constant freezes — but that also delays the work of answering calls promptly.

According to several insiders, the new system, which NYPD brass deployed for the first time last week, has gone down several times already. The system crashes have forced operators to resort to writing down information about 911 calls on slips of paper, though police officials have said all calls were answered and no one has been endangered.

“It works,” Mayor Bloomberg said of the dispatch system on his radio show Friday, referring to the problems as “bugs” common to any new system.
“You wish you didn’t have bugs,” Bloomberg said, “but that’s the real world.”

Bugs don’t nearly explain the story, emergency officials say.

“This is serious stuff,” said one high ranking EMS official. “The police computers keep getting disconnected from our dispatchers. Sometimes they don’t send us any calls from entire busy precincts for hours at a time. Public safety is being jeopardized.”

That official pointed to other incidents of failed communication this week that have received no attention.

The same morning that Ariel was struck — allegedly by Franklin Reyes, who has been charged with manslaughter — a motorist on I-95 lost control of his car near Co-op City in the Bronx. The car hit a median and overturned. The injured driver managed to get out of the car and a highway police sergeant who arrived at the scene immediately radioed 911.

EMS logs show that the first notification to FDNY and EMS of the accident came in at 11:48 a.m. Within five minutes, an ambulance and fire company had arrived on the scene.

But according to the EMS official: “When our units got there, the sergeant said: ‘What took you guys so long? I’ve been waiting here for an hour and a half.’

“The sergeant kept radioing in the information, but we got it very late,” the EMS official said.
“Our ambulances keep sending messages to police radio and they just disappear in the system without police receiving them,” a veteran EMS dispatcher said. “Something’s very wrong here.”

The new $88 million computer-aided dispatch system, known as ICAD, was developed by Alabama-based Intergraph Corp. As The News reported last week, eerily similar problems emerged when Intergraph rolled out versions of its 911 systems in both Nassau County and San Jose, Calif.

The ICAD is part of a larger overhaul of the city’s 911 system, the first that’s been attempted in decades.

The Bloomberg administration launched the effort after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But that effort was plagued by years of delays and the failure of several major contractors to deliver what they promised.

Meanwhile, the cost has skyrocketed from $1.3 billion to more than $2 billion.

All the energy they have spent on the stupid teacher evaluation system rolled out last week and here we have a 911 system that may be in part responsible for the death of a four year old.

God help us if there's a major problem in the city and lots of 911 calls come in.

This 911 system cannot handle anything like that.

Oh, but thank God we've got a new teacher evaluation system!


  1. I'm sure Mayor Scumberg will be held accountable for this...

    1. Nope - he'll either ignore the reality or, if forced to face it, blame it on somebody else.

  2. The "real world" that Bloomberg refers to is in fact the repressive crony capitalism that he relentlessly expands and typifies.

    1. I was thinking he was referring to the one up his ass, but I see what you mean, Michael.