Texas City (Tex.) dispatcher Donna Johnson fielded a 911 call from the roomate of a man who police say was mixing a dangerous combination of chemicals when it exploded, killing him. The roomate’s 7-minute call was filled with profanities, wailing and desperation as the man told Johnson what had occurred. A police investigation found that the the two men often mixed up explosives as a “hobby,” but something set off the latest batch that was being prepared, instantly killing the man. Read more here.
Two unnamed Seattle (Wash.) police dispatchers were called a heroes by police chief Chief Gil Kerlikowske for his/her part in talking a murder suspect into surrendering himself. The suspect burst into the offices of the Jewish Federation, shot and killed one person and wounded several others with two semi-auto handguns. An employee dialed 911 and was then confronted by the gunman, but the employee managed to convince the suspect to talked to the dispatcher. After a few minutes, the man agreed to surrender without further incident. “I listened to the tape,” Kerlikowske said. “I was absolutely stunned by their level of calmness and coolness.” He said the names of the dispatchers might be released later.
Wireless Week writer Mark Rockwell takes a long look at the Cyren Call proposal that Nextel co-founder Morgan O’Brien and others have proposed to provide more spectrum to public safety in the 700 MHz band. The proposal is tied up with spectrum auctions, private radio systems, the spectre of terrorism and lots of other issues. Read Rockwell’s view here.
A New Mexico newspaper has investigated the circumstances of a May 13th vehicle accident that left four persons dead, and which has “shaken” the involved dispatchers. A husband and wife, their son and his girlfriend were killed when their vehicle crashed down an embankment and it took four hours to locate them. Two 911 calls had no Phase II location information, but ANI/ALI information displayed for a third 911 call was overlooked by a dispatcher. Read part two of the newspaper’s investigation here.
The Collier County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office uses a Red E. Fox robot to help teach children how t properly use 911 for reporting emergencies. A story in the Naples News said there are about 20 of the $6,000 foxy robots in use around the country teaching 911 skills. The robot is used in situations where the full-size, human-powered costume isn’t practical, such as in a long parade on a hot day. Read more here.
Ambulance provider American Medical Response (AMR) has a new comm center in the central California counties of Stanislaus and San Joaquin, and is profiled in an article on EMS Responder’s Web site. The center handles incidents for a population of 1.2 million, and use Pro-QA by Priority Dispatch to handle their medical calls. Read more about the center here.
A great profile in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper about dispatcher Kim Korstad, who adopted the families of two Gulf Coast dispatchers who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Read the profile here.
Northborough (Mass.) police dispatcher Larry Wayne Ellis, 44, was arrested by Shrewsbury police on Memorial Day along with another man and charged with crimes related to having sex in public. According to the Shrewsbury Chronicle newspaper he was scheduled to appear in court on charges of open and gross lewdness; lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct, and indecent exposure. Police made another arrest at the same spot 20 minutes later, saying public sex had become an issue for the town. There are no details on any action the police department took against Ellis.
The Sacramento (Calif.) Regional Communication Radio System is converting its 800 MHz trunked radio system from analog to Project 25 digital, but it’s a tricky endeavor when you have 14,000 users from agencies all across the county, including the Sacramento city police and fire, and county sheriff. A newspaper article details the complaints from Metro fire chief Don Mette, who says that taking half the radio channels off-line could put firefighters in jeopardy. Radio techs explained they must perform the conversion “hot,” and that they’re trying to provide as many channels and talkgroups as possible during the conversion to the Motorola system. Read the full story and the chief’s complaints
Police in Pretoria (South Africa) have arrested a dispatcher for the East Rand regional police department, after her husband was arrested on charges of taking part in a series of organized street robberies where the suspects impersonated police officers. Brenda Mabuza, 27, worked at the radio control centre in Benoni. Police said they found an illegal police uniform, insignia and a hijacked Volkswagen Golf during a search of the house she shares with her husband. Police are investigating if Mabuza provided any warnings to her husband or other members of the gang. Another 23 persons have been arrested for participating in the series of robberies where motorists were stopped by people appearing as police officers. Mabusa appeared in court and was released on $278 bail.
The village of Melrose Park (Ill., pop. 23,171) is shifting its public safety dispatching to the private company Norcomm Public Safety Communication Inc., to save th expenes of upgrading its center. The last comm center renovation cost the village $1 million, officials recalled. The company will hire all 10 of the village’s dispatchers–pending interviews with the employees, the company said. Norcomm already dispatches for Bellwood, Franklin Park and Northlake, and its parent company also operates other centers in the Illinois, Indiana and Michigan region.
A Denver (Colo.) TV station discovered the problems of dialing 911 over VoIP lines and outlined the the reporter outilned the issues to his viewers. Morgan County communications director Pam Monsees says they receive 911 calls from around the country that are made on VoIP lines. Read the story here.
Kudos to Eastside Communications (Bellevue, Wash.) dispatcher Bree Cowdrey, who fielded a call from a teenage girl trapped in a burning house. Officials said Cowdrey heard the crackle of the fire and breaking glass when she answered the call, and then gave her instructions on reaching a 2nd-floor window so she could jump to safety. Read the story here.
Two Washington County (Ore.) sheriff’s deputies responded to a woman’s home to investigate a neighbor’s noise complaint, and thought they were finished with the call. But minutes after they left the woman dialed 911 and asked the dispatcher if the “cutie pie” deputy could return. The calltaker asked if she had an emergency, and the woman replied, “I don’t have an emergency… I’ll think of something… throw him back my way, would you?…. just blame it on my dog.” After the dispatcher questioned her reason for calling, the woman said, “Honey I’m just going to be honest with you, okay? I just thought he was cute, I’m 45-years-old and I’d just like to meet him again but I don’t know how to go about doing that without calling 9-1-1.” The deputy did indeed return, but arrested her for abusing 911. She faces a $6,000 fine and up to a year in jail. [She later received two years probation, 100 hours of community service and a $693 fine.]
Albuquerque (NM) police officials say they’ll revise their prioritization policy after several calls from neighbors failed to generate a police reponse to a domestic violence incident that ended with a murder suicide. Neighbors reported seeing a woman being dragged into her home by her husband, but their reports were “second hand,” and APD policy says only first-person reports should be given Priority 1 in CAD. In this case, two early calls were classified as Priority 2, and the third call about 90 minutes into the incident finally brought police. View a TV video report on the incident here.