May 31, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Numerous fire unions called for major changes to the city’s 9-1-1 system today at City Hall by demanding that the mayor end the Unified Taking System because they say when a fire or medical emergency is called into 9-1-1, precious minutes are being wasted because the 9-1-1 operator has to then redirect the call to the appropriate fire or EMS dispatcher. WATCH VIDEO OF PRESSER
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, said that the city has to make at least one immediate change to the 9-1-1 system.
“We’re calling for a simple change. When a New Yorker places an emergency call for help, we are asking that when that emergency is a fire or medical emergency that immediately that call is given to the proper dispatcher,” said Crowley.
Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, said the city has to stop the Unified Taking System because it has contributed to the deaths of civilians as a result of firefighters being sent to the wrong address.
Mr. Cassidy testified going back to December 2009 before the City Council to say that the UCT was an abysmal failure because firefighters are constantly being sent to the wrong addresses and don’t know what type of calls they are going out on.
In an interview, Mr. Cassidy said the city should revert back to the old system where calls for emergency help are directed to fire and/or EMS dispatchers.
“The de Blasio administration needs to order that 9-1-1 call takers immediately transfer calls related to fires or medical emergencies to the fire department as it was five years ago,” said Cassidy.
About an hour after the press conference, and while Councilwoman Crowley was leading the hearing examining FDNY emergency response protocols, the Mayor’s office announced what they say is the most comprehensive review in years of the existing 9-1-1 emergency response system.
According to the statement, administration officials will examine the current condition of the 9-1-1-call handling process, complete a data analysis of call-handling, particularly the distribution of end-to-end response times and an assessment of all previous studies done on the system.