Saturday, December 12, 2009

911 procedure questioned at council hearing

From the NY Times:

City officials and union representatives testifying at a City Council hearing on Thursday presented divergent evaluations of a firefighter dispatching system that was instituted in May.

The new system, referred to as unified call-taking, is meant to streamline the way firefighters are sent out on runs, but it has quickly become the subject of some controversy. Fire union officials say it sometimes provides firefighters with incomplete or inaccurate information, even as the city has credited the new system with helping to cut response times to historic lows.

“It saves valuable time,” Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler told the council members. “That is unassailable, in my opinion.”

But Capt. Alexander Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association union, called reports of lower response time “statistical trickery,” adding, “The people were not getting a faster response time. They were getting a snow job.”

Mr. Skyler repeatedly told the council members that limiting emergency calls to one call taker was faster and more efficient. But some council members asked whether 911 operators, trained primarily in responding to crimes rather than fires, might take longer to elicit information that could benefit firefighters.

And fire union officials asserted that response times were being calculated in a misleading way. They said such calculations before the new system began included the time that fire dispatchers spent on the phone questioning callers. Now, the times do not include the period that 911 dispatchers are making similar queries, union officials said.


Taxpayer said...

In past years, I've phoned 911 to report fire or the smell of smoke.

Instantly, the 911 operator switched me to a fire Dept. dispatcher who asked a few pertinent questions - especially when it involved the smell of smoke in the neighborhood.

Then the crew arrived, in moments - congratulations, Elmhurst Eagles!

On the other hand, phoning 911 to report a crime is a lengthy process of deciding the proper terminology to use.

It took more than 30 minutes for police to arrive for a sighting of a man with a gun report. Even then, the police went off in the wrong direction.

NYPD sneers at the public. FDNY listens to the public and responds as quickly as humanly possible.

The object of this new call center must be to have the FDNY speak DIRECTLY to the fire/smoke reporter without any middleman who knows nothing of FDNY and the public's need for safety.

Anything else is deliberate mismanagement for the sake of political posturing.

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler can go shit in his hat. It's not HIS house or family in danger.

Anonymous said...

There is no quicker response time. FDNY units are out the door quicker TO THE WRONG ADDRESS! if anything, they're getting to fires later after pertinent info is passed to them that they should've had when they left the firehouse...
Bloomberg's daughter runs the company that is integrating the 911 system... smells like political bullshit.