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History of NYC 911 Part of Snowstorm Debate

In the middle of one of New York City’s most severe snowstorms, a 911 calltaker spoke to a person complaining of hiccups, and then entered an incident in CAD for dispatch to an EMS crew. That incident was among thousands handled by the city’s police, fire and EMS comm centers during last month’s blizzard, including 42,478 calls to 911 within one 24-hour period. “It was hell,” one unnamed dispatcher told reporters, adding that without plowed streets, responding units couldn’t handle the incidents that 911 calltakers were entering in CAD. In fact, the crush of calls created a three-hour backlog of medical incidents, some 1,300 incidents at one point. City officials admit the city’s entire emergency response system was ill-prepared for the snowstorm, while mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed Mother Nature for the problems, not technology. But a long article in the Gotham Gazette recounted the city’s six-year history of trying to consolidate separate police, fire and EMS comm centers, and streamline the E911 system. Read more about the city’s E911 upgrade and the snowstorm here.

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