"If the public only knew what we’re going through," is how one longtime 911 call-taker began her chilling account of life in the
gallows 911 emergency dispatch center, which has come under fire in recent months for continuously failing after receiving an $88 million overhaul in May.
The account, reported by the Post, reveals that Downtime at the Dispatch Center isn't at all the orderly, "no big deal!" affair the Bloomberg administration would have us believe it is. We've assembled a collection of the most disturbing excerpts for your reading horror:
- "They throw slips of paper at you. You have to make sure the information goes in the right spot on the forms. It’s so time-consuming."
- “We’re holding!” a supervisor shouts. He’s breathing down my neck. “You still on the same call?” They pressure you to move on, but I need more time."
- "Our call volume is too high for this system. It’s a very slow system, even when it’s working right. The old computer system was much faster. I wish we could go back."
- "Once the address an operator thought she heard was for the wrong borough. A baby wasn’t breathing. The baby died."
- "They give rookie operators two months training, and after that just throw ’em in. They’re not ready. It’s a revolving door. The new ones come in, and some say it’s too much and leave."
All of this sounds about in accordance with the accusations lobbed at the new system following the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo, who in June was hit by a car in the Upper West Side and died from her wounds after a dispatcher failed to notice the 911 call for more than four minutes after it came in.
At a hearing investigating the incident, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway assured the crowd—which included Russo's parents—that the slip system was perfectly sufficient, and was even used intentionally when the computerized system was brought offline for two hours each month for maintenance.
Neither Holloway nor the anonymous call-taker elaborated on just how many slips were thrown and how much shouting and neck-breathing ensued during the scheduled maintenance times.