City Council holds hearings on 911 system - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

City Council holds hearings on 911 system

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The Bloomberg administration launched a high-tech 911 system back in 2004. But critics say that 10 years later and more than $2 billion spent the public isn't any safer. In fact, people are dying, according to these critics.

Steve Cassidy, the president of the union that represents firefighters, is echoing what many emergency responder unions and city officials are calling for: making fire dispatchers handle fire and medical emergency 911 calls, not police dispatchers.

City Council committees are holding hearings on the city's 911 system, which has been plagued with glitches and mismanagement. In April, two 4-year-old children died in a fire in Far Rockaway, Queens. A supervisor and three dispatchers were suspended for mishandling the response.

On Friday, council members played a 911 call from a nun at a Staten Island convent last fall that was on fire. Members said it illustrates the mismanagement that led to wasting critical time.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has suspended the technology portion of the 911 system upgrade project while a 60-day review is underway. However, several city and union leaders are calling on the mayor immediately put fire and medical calls back in to the hands of fire dispatchers. The mayor has said that is also under review. The mayor also pointed out that that last year the 911 system received 10 million phone calls, and that the vast majority of the calls were handled without any problems.

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