Even in an edited version, that report on New York City's 911 system that Bloomberg had to be ordered by a judge to release reportedly does not paint a pretty picture of our city's emergency preparedness. The Mayor's office today released a 133-page version of the 216-page report from a group of outside consultants. We haven't gotten our hands on it yet, but it reportedly "found that call operators waste time on duplicative questions and employ inconsistent questioning procedures. The system, it found, sends some responders to the wrong address and slows fire and medical dispatchers' efforts to give instructions to callers." Oh, good.
The report (which was initiated after the 2010 blizzard) comes as a years-long, much delayed and over-budget project to consolidate the city's emergency response system—the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP)—inches closer to completion. Possibly the most upsetting part of the report? It seems that somebody has been giving City Hall bad numbers to work with: "Statistical information provided to City Hall management to demonstrate the success of the (Unified Call Taking) project contained errors and does not provide a clear picture of the effectiveness of UCT related business processes," the report said.
But there are other disconcerting things in there too:
The consultants also found instances in which the city's fire and police departments failed to work together. The agencies developed their plan to deal with a surge of calls in a crisis without collaborating, even though such an incident usually requires a multi-agency response, the report said. Additionally, the Fire Department's emergency medical managers weren't involved in the development of procedures for police call-takers who now handle medical calls.
"NYPD call takers did not receive adequate training for (Unified Call Taking) responsibilities and are not proficient at handling FDNY related activity," said the report, which also found that fire dispatch personnel were inadequately trained.
Now the question is, if the city has released that much damning information in an edited version, what exactly could they still be hiding? The city is currently in the process of appealing a judge's order that it release earlier drafts of the report.