Thursday, February 5, 2009

DON'T Call 911 To Report A Problem With 911

As they say, timing is everything.

Shortly after the SHT ran a series of articles critical of the 911 system--the 'system' as a whole, not specifically the Sarasota area centers, although the Denise Amber Lee debacle was highlighted--another tragedy unfolded, which seems to back up the newspaper articles.

Paramedics were dispatched to an Englewood address instead of the correct Sarasota location at 3:00 o'clock in the morning for an infant who had stopped breathing. Link. The distraught parents told 911 that they lived on Highland Avenue instead of their actual address of Highland Street, partly because they were hysterical about their child and partly because they had just moved to this location two months ago.

Several minutes were lost by the time the error was realized and another emergency unit was dispatched to the correct address.

The baby, unfortunately, could not be revived.

As it was during the first series of articles in the paper, supporters (read: those who work in the 911 dispatch centers, those law enforcement personnel who work closely with the 911 dispatch centers, family and friends of those who work in the 911 dispatch centers) were quick to defend their profession, albeit with a decidedly appalling absence of tact, good taste and dignity.

The comments posted with the article reveal a truly arrogant "how-dare-you-question-us" mindset of the 911 community, to wit:

  • "Place the blame where it really belongs; you gave the wrong address. You are using an outdated cell phone that is unable to be used for location. You failed to use a landline (for whatever reason (cost?)."
  • "...but how dare you blame the 911 system for what is clearly a mistake YOU made. Accept YOUR error. YOU clearly gave the call taker the wrong location."
  • "It was not the call taker who made the mistake, it was the caller."
  • "...stop blaming the Sarasota 911. here is one solution.... STOP USING CELL PHONES IN YOUR HOUSE!"
  • "If blame must to be placed, place it squarely on the shoulders of the caller!"
Talk about a tough room.....

A follow-up article in today's edition of SHT posited that cell phone calls can be located on a map of cell phone towers. A Pinellas County 911 manager is quoted as saying, "We strongly encourage people to bring up a map on every call we dispatch Fire/EMS units on as an additional safeguard."

To which, "srqfiveo" (cute, huh?) made the following observation:

  • Cell towers might help reduce mix ups? Really.... The question I have in this case is why is everyone so quick to push the blame onto the 911 call center. The medical personnel were sent to the address given to them by the caller. PERIOS. It is not as if the medical personnel were sent to the wrong address after the correct adress was provided to the call taker. Under those circumstatnces I could understand there being outrage or ill will. The blame for this incident lies with the individual who provided the WRONG information to 911. All of these wonderful ideas that are now coming to light, new questions asked to irate callers, cell tower tracking, gps trackers on cell phones, all of these wouldn't be an issue if the caller got the information correct. What adult does not know their own address? And how is it the responsiblity of Law Enformcement to ensure that the citizen of the area know where they live and can articulate that information to an operator? Before the family starts pointing their finger at 911 call center, maybe they should walk to the end of their street and look at the street sign .........
I couldn't--I wouldn't--make this stuff up.

1 comment:

  1. "I couldn't--I wouldn't--make this stuff up."

    exactly. It's unbelievable. People are actually trying to help the 9-1-1 industry by lobbying for more funding so they can have better technology, higher pay, better training and standardization but they are so busy covering their butts, they can't see that.

    just my opinion of course.