Report: New NYC 911 system slowing EMS response
'911 Call Processing Review' document says $2 billion spent has worsened system
Editor's note: A document, formally known as the 911 Call Processing Review, charges that despite more than $2 billion shoveled at problems in NYC, response times to emergencies have actually slowed.
By Josh Margolin
The New York Post
NEW YORK — The Bloomberg administration is waging an all-out battle to suppress a scathing report aptly called "911 CPR'' - which has determined that the city's emergency-dispatch system is on life support, The Post has learned.
The document, formally known as the 911 Call Processing Review, charges that despite more than $2 billion shoveled at the problems, response times to emergencies, in which every second counts, have actually slowed.
One source described it as "nuclear.''
Among the bombshell findings:
- Far from fixing the problems, the new $2 billion 911 system has "made it worse," by slowing the time it takes for fire and EMS calls to get from 911 operators to the responders in the field, the source said.
- NYPD brass, trying to keep their call stats high and justify an ever-increasing budget, refuse to allow the city's 311 system to handle nonemergency police calls - although that's how it's done in many other big cities.
- As much as $100 million has been wasted by purchasing separate dispatch systems for the NYPD and FDNY when one new one would have been just fine. The separate systems were incompatible, so the city had to spend $15 million for an interface to get them to communicate with each other.
- Despite a series of reports showing that it would be more efficient for City Hall to exert direct control over emergency communications - because of incessant brawling between the NYPD and FDNY - the mayor's office is still ducking responsibility.
That's because City Hall officials are fearful of angering Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and his team, the source said.
The document was commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg after the city's disastrous response to the Christmas blizzard of 2010.
Bloomberg insisted the analysis of New York's emergency-response systems would be candid and unvarnished.
But as it turned out, the 216-page report, written by a Washington-area consulting firm, was so damning that it sent fear through the highest echelons at City Hall and the NYPD, which runs the 911 system.
Already a top police official has been reassigned.
"The system is as inefficient and ineffective an operation as you could get," the source said. "Seconds count in emergencies. People are going to die."
After learning of the report's ugly conclusions, City Hall ordered everyone familiar with the document to shut up.
Cgtyityopies of the analysis have been stamped "draft" to keep them from being released, although the findings have been complete for a while.
Official confirmation that the report was done finally came in the past two months when lawyers for the FDNY officers union grilled senior Fire Department personnel as part of a complex labor case against the city.
"Everyone's heard of that report," FDNY Communications Director Gerard Neville testified Feb. 24 in that case. "That's like a best seller - but no one's ever seen it."
On Friday, the state Supreme Court justice hearing the case ordered the city to release the document.
But that directive was postponed after administration lawyers made a last-minute appeal.
The authors of the report refused to comment.
Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna offered what has become City Hall's standard response to questions about problems with emergency communications:
"The system handles 11 million calls a year effectively and response times are at or near record lows across the board,'' LaVorgna said.
"We will continue to build on our public safety gains that have made this city safer than ever before."
Additional information: 'It's an emergency!'
- The GPS systems for the NYPD and FDNY use different names for landmarks around the five boroughs, including - incredibly - different references for the Empire State Building.
- The city is installing separate dispatch systems for the NYPD and FDNY. The police system cost $87.6 million, while the fire system, which has not been purchased yet, is expected to cost $50 million.
- The city had to spend another $15 million to build an interface that would allow the two systems to communicate with each other.
- Although police and fire dispatchers have been moved into one central location in Downtown Brooklyn, they continue working on separate telephone systems for no good reason.
- Unlike most big cities, New York still cannot calculate precisely how long it will take emergency responders to reach a scene.
Copyright 2012 The New York Post