Austin (Tex.) police say that a 911 caller didn’t mention that her car was just burglarized, and that’s why the dispatcher transferred her to the non-emergency 311 number for a report. A TV reporter asked Telecommunication Leader Sharon Gunnlaugsson why the dispatcher failed to ask when the incident occurred. She said, “”That’s a tough thing. Those questions, that’s protocol. Those questions should be asked. If the question did not get asked, it could relay both ways. Really, it really just depends.” Read more here.
Under a court order, the city of New York released more logging recorder tapes of the Sept. 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers. The 1,613 recordings were discovered by fire department officials, who believed they had already turned over all copies of radio and telephone transmissions in March to attorneys of families who are suing the city over the emergency response. The tapes are only of police, fire, EMS personnel and emergency dispatchers, and not of any citizens who dialed 911 on that day. Read more about the tapes here.
Connersville (Ind.) mayor Max Ellison had a video camera installed at the Fayette County 911 center after he says security door entry codes were given out to pizza delivery drivers, and friends and family of dispatchers were viewing information on computer screens when they visited. But a dispatcher apparently tipped off county commissioners about the camera, and one commissioner told reporter he then told the dispatchers to cover the camera lens. Read more about the situation here.
A Salem (Ore.) police officer pulled over a car containing two occupants, and one of the men had a brainstorm how to get released–make a 911 call reporting a phony stabbilng incident. A dispatcher received a 911 call shortly after the car was stopped, with a man using a low voice to report someone had been stabbed. The unnamed calltaker began taking information, but then heard someone in the background asking for “ID,” someone who sounded like a police officer. When the dispatcher asked about the person, the caller hung up. The officer and dispatcher put two-and-two together, and the passenger was arrested for making a false 911 call. Listen to the logging tape (mp3) here.
Expect anything when you’re answering 911 calls: Stone County (Ark.) dispatcher Carrie Bell fielded a call from Arkansas State Trooper Andy Wiley, who was a passenger in a National Guard helicopter that had just crashed into a rural field in adjacent Carroll County. Since Stone County has Phase II service, they were able to pinpoint the location of the crash, and relay those coordinates to Carroll County dispatchers, whose comm center doesn’t have Phase II service. The helicopter was flying a drug interdiction pattern when it went down, seriously injuring Wiley and the pilot.
San Joaquin County (Calif.) supervisors took the unusual step of buying full-page ads in at least four area newspapers to explain their position on moving EMS dispatching from the Stockton Fire Department to ambulance provider American Medical Response (AMR). The cities of Stockton, Manteca and Lodi protested the move, and the county had to go to court to force their participation. Supervisor Victor Mow said the commissioners weren’t receiving fair press, and ran the ads to accurately express their viewpoints. Read more here.
A former Ramsey County (Minn.) dispatcher has turned her experience into a tell-all book titled, “Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat,” sparking criticism from some former co-workers. A self-admitted cocaine user in high school, Caroline Burau recounts how she straightened out and went looking for a stable job, landing in Ramsey County as a dispatcher. Her book hits the stores on Tuesday, and Burau has told a newspaper reporter, “I didn’t expect everyone to be tickled to death with what I wrote. At the same time, I think there are dispatchers out there who say, ‘Yeah, this is how I feel all the time.’” Burau received a $4,000 grant to promote her book from the Loft Literary Center. Read more about her book here, or a more gritty account here. [Barnes & Noble / Amazon]
The Post Falls (Idaho) police department has installed software in their patrol cars that allows them to view CAD and E911 information, including maps of incidents. According to a KXLY-TV report, the goal of the system is to eliminate human error by allowing officers to access the same information the dispatcher has. Watch the TV video report here.
Dispatchers are “ordinary” people, too, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Mercy Regional (Ill.) EMS dispatcher Keina Draper was named Williamson County Fair Queen, and presided over events at the annual event, and will continue her role throughout the next year. Draper, 20, told a reporter the crown isn’t everyday wear. “Normally, I don’t wear it during the day, even though my mom said I should,” she said. Draper is also attending college and is a biology major to expand her planned medical career.
The families of two Philadelphia (Penn.) firefighters have filed lawsuits against Motorola, Wireless Communications and Electronics Inc., and a homeowner, claiming the city’s public safety radio system malfunctioned when the firefighters tried to radio for help when their air packs ran out during a smoky basement fire in 2004. The lawsuit says that Capt. John Taylor and firefighter Rey Rubio, “suffered agonizing and horrible deaths from asphyxiation, before they could be rescued,” and that Taylor made several attempts to radio for help from the basement. The homeowner was convicted last year of involuntary manslaughter in the case. Prosecutors presented evidence the fire was caused by a marijuana grow operation.
MRT magazine reports that few 800 MHz rebanding deals have been signed by agencies, as reported by Transition Administrator director Brett Haan during this week’s APCO conference. Of 424 public safety licensees in in the first wave of rebanding, just 20 had signed a rebanding agreement as of the Aug. 7th milestone, Haan reported. And, he added, 231 licensees are not in active negotiations with Nextel to reband their 800 MHz radio systems. Read the entire story here.
The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) has posted The First Responder’s Guide to Satellite Communications, which it describes as, “a comprehensive overview and tutorial of satellite technology and its role in response to natural or man-made disasters.” The Guide includes an overview of satellite communications capabilities, equipment requirements and easy to follow steps for connecting with satellite through various types of terminals, and a glossary of terms, definitions and frequencies. Download (pdf) the Guide here.
APCO has issued a statement cautiously supporting the concept of the Cyren Call project, but not completely embracing the project itself. APCO noted that the 24 MHz of spectrum previously allocated to public safety by the FCC, “is insufficient to meet public safety’s future requirements. APCO supports “reallocating 30 MHz of spectrum from the 700 MHz band that is currently slated for auction,” a proposal made by Nextel co-founder Morgan O’Brien under the Cyren Call project. APCO said carefully that it intends to join other groups “to advocate a reallocation of the 30 MHz, and to further develop proposals for a public/private partnership to construct and operate a broadband network using that 30 MHz of spectrum.” The group carefully added, “The ‘Public Safety Broadband Trust,’ proposed by Cyren Call Communications, may be a viable framework for that effort.” Read an interview with APCO president Wanda McCarley about the statement here.
Kansas City (Mo.) police officers found a 7 year-old boy after he allegedly made a prank 911 call reporting a home invasion robbery and the kidnapping of his father. The youth told the dispatcher he was 13 years-old, and that three armed men had broke into his house. He gave a phony address, but police used his cellular call information to find him at his grandmother’s home. A news story did not say that police arrested the youth, but did say police would not bill the family for the time and effort invested. Watch a TV report on the incident here.
The FCC has issued a fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the issue of digital TV and reallocation of the 700 MHz band, including 24 MHz for public safety. The Rulemaking asks for comment on “several potential changes” to the FCC’s initial determinations on the matter, including upcoming auctions of 60 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band. The Cyren Call project has proposed allocating 30 MHz of the upper 700 MHz spectrum to a public safety trust, to create a nationwide broadband network. In the Notice the FCC asked for additional comments on service area rules for the spectrum, bandwidth and pairing, performance requirements, license terms, and power limits. Download (pdf) the Notice here