An arbitrator ordered Athens County (Ohio) to reinstate a 911 dispatcher who was fired last November over charges he appeared at work intoxicated and was abusive to a fellow dispatcher, and now the local police union is going to court to force the county to comply. The arbitrator said Warren Ferguson was a “troubled employee” who was suffering from emotional problems related to his life situation, and should receive his job back after he demonstrated he could handle it. The county says it plans to appeal the arbitrator’s order, but won’t offer Ferguson his job back in the meantime. Read more about the situation here. [follow-up story.]
The Longview (Wash.) Daily News has posted a long profile of the Cowlitz County public safety comm center, including the types of calls they receive for five police and nine fire agencies, along with the county sheriff. Read the article here.
VoIP provider Vonage said that it now has nearly 85% of its customers’ lines connected directly to PSAPs, allowing them to more quickly connect 911 calls. Vonage also claimed that problems with AT&T are preventing implementation of the final 15% of its VoIP lines. “We think it’s going to be an uphill battle to get that [AT&T] percentage on par with the other carriers,” said Steve Seitz, the company’s vice president of 911 regulatory affairs. AT&T has disputed Vonage’s claims in filings with the FCC. Read more here.
Macon (Geo.) police say that three police radios and programming gear was stolen from the city’s radio facility during two separate burglaries, and there is a difference of opnion on whether the theft signals something more sinister. The city operates an 800 MHz, P25 trunked radio system. The police officer taking the burglary report recommended that it be reported to the FBI and DHS, but another police official said it wasn’t necessary. Police later arrested and fired one of their own police officers after a tip led them to a suspect, and evidence at that house led them to the officer’s home where a department radio was located. Read more here.
A state study of Boston’s underground transit tunnels has found that police, fire and other emergency workers would have limited communications during an emergency. Local agencies are not linked to the existing transit radio system, officials noted, and there are significant dead spots and static on the system. Read more about the study here.
A consultant has recommended some wide-ranging recommendations for the Hamilton County (Ohio) 911 operation, including creating a stand-alone agency that consolidates the current multi-agency dispatch operations. The consulting group Maximus was paid $50,000 for the study, which alsorecommends a two-stage dispatching process, instead of the current combined calltaking and radio dispatch operation. The comm center should be accredited through CALEA, and be governed by a board with representatives from all participating agencies. Read more about the study here.
APCO has posted the results of a project to create minimum training standards for public safety center supervisors. The 10-page document includes concise descriptions of the necessary training for first-level supervisors. Download (pdf) the document here.
A former Sangamon County (Ill.) dispatcher has pled guilty in federal court with drug distribution and faces from five to 40 years in prison. Federal prosecutors alleged he conspired to sell drugs between June 2000 and October 2003, and noted that his drug activity ended before he joined the county comm center as a dispatcher in August 2005. He was put on administrative leave in July 2005, and subsequently resigned. U.S. Attorney Rodger Heaton told a reporter, “Our investigation confirmed that there was no impact or threat to the work that he did there.” Read more about the county’s hiring process here.
Indiana Treasurer Tim Berry has told a reporter that a new generation of 911 network being built in the state could allow citizens to “text-message emergencies to the police or send pictures of accidents from their camera phones.” The advanced 911 concepts have been mentioned in several news articles lately in connection with 911 upgrades, but it’s not clear who originally came up with the idea. Many parts of the country still do not have any type of 911 service, and those agencies with 911 are struggling to upgrade to allow Phase II wireless service. Read more about Indiana’s system here.
Bexas County (Tex.) chair Jimmy Hasslocher was profiled in the San Antonio Express-News, with the article saying that, “It’s hard to find a public official in San Antonio who has devoted more time to a single agency than Hasslocher.” He’s led the Metro 911 Network District since it was founded in 1987, an has run it with “an iron fist,” according to one county commissioner. Read the entire story here.
Cumberland County (Penn.) officials announced that the Aug. 30th implementation date for their new 800 MHz trunked radio system has been pushed back because of software developement issues. The system is being constructed and installed by M/A-COMM using its new OpenSky technology. A news story says the system was initially planned for a June 2006 turn-on, but was delayed by trainng issues. Read more here.
Kudos to Clackamas County (Ore.) dispatcher Tammy shaver, who not only helped a husband deliver a baby, but then gave the man CPR instructions when the infant failed to start breathing on her own. Shaver and the firefighting crew that responded were honored by the county, where they met Baby Bridget and her parents. Read the story and listen to the 911 call here.
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.