Letters - 911 Overhaul

Posted in Volume 36, Issue 17 - June 11, 2016

To the Editor:

The death, in March, of a resident due to poor training and incompetence from 911 dispatchers calls for a serious overhaul.

What does it take to inform ‘the system’ that Roosevelt Island does not have cross streets? This has been a problem for years and there has been more than one death. Politicians have gotten involved, changes implemented, corrections noted and then it happens again.

I don’t care if it involves millions of dollars for new equipment that works with zip codes but something must be done.

It is important to note that many calls to 911 get a satisfactory result. Does it depend on the efficiency of the 911 dispatcher? It is easy to imagine a caller being panicked to begin with, and the frustration with the insistence that a cross street must be given may further impede their communication.

I have advocated that 911 callers refrain from saying Roosevelt Island since dispatchers assume Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, Long Island, or somewhere else entirely. Instead they should say “New York, zip code 10044.”

I have been told that every dispatch agency works with GPS and that zip code is the key. But I have no confirmation on this. When pressed for a cross street, 36th Ave should be used. But that is just a band aid. The system must be fixed

I have been in touch with our Director of Public Safety, Jack McManus. He assured me, on May 27, that he would be meeting with the head of the Office of Emergency Management, senior leadership within the Fire and Police Departments, and the New York City Medical Service, to discuss how to avoid this situation in the future. Yet, as of this writing, that meeting has not been scheduled.

I believe that RIOC should have an active involvement and I encourage every resident to call the offices of Ben Kallos at 212-860-1950, Jose Serrano at 212-828-5829, and Rebecca Seawright at 212-288-4607 to demand their input as well. There is no limit to what an organized and determined group can achieve. We must make a lot of noise. We cannot afford another death due to inaction. We are a NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) and those 911 calls will be placed more and more frequently as time goes on.

Mary Cavanaugh

Tags: Letters

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