Two City Council meetings will be held Friday to discuss the recent glitches in New York City’s emergency response 911 system. The problems arose after the city spent $2 billion in modernization which includes new technology and a new backup call center.
The new system sometimes goes down from minutes to hours. When that happens operators are forced to send out handwritten messages to dispatchers who then send out calls to radio emergency responders. Israel Miranda, President of the EMS union was quoted as saying in CBS, "After you spend $88 million of taxpayer money on a project like this and it doesn’t work and you use the citizens of New York as guinea pigs, I don’t know what to say."
The EMS Union blames the faulty 911 system for the death of a little girl on June 4. Four year old Ariel Russo and her grandmother were walking when an SUV jumped the curb on West 97th street and Amsterdam Avenue.
According to officials, the 911 call came in at 8:15:38 and reached EMS at 8:15:40. An ambulance wasn’t dispatched for another four minutes and it took another eight for it to reach the scene. Little Arielle Russo passed away at St. Luke’s hospital and her grandmother survived with a broken leg and back.
Arielle’s family is suing the family in hopes of the city changing their emergency response system for the better. Steve Cassidy, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, says the new system isn’t working and needs to be restored to how it was before all the changes.
One of the defenders of the new system is FDNY Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano. Cassano says the slow response time isn’t the fault of the new system but instead human error. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has also come out in defense of the new system. “I’m told by the experts that you’re going to have kinds of bumps or hiccups at the beginning of installing a major system like this,” Kelly was quoted saying in a CBS article.