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New York City EMS 911 System Crashes Repeatedly On Monday

FDNY Says No Calls Were Missed; Operators Instead Used Pen And Paper

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Operators with Emergency Medical Services resorted to using pen and paper when the city’s new 911 system suffered several glitches Monday.

The EMS 911 dispatch system went down for about 30 minutes Monday morning, the Fire Department said. That part of the system is from the 1980s and scheduled to be upgraded in 2015.

In all, the system crashed at least four times, CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis reported.

As WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported, administration sources said the failures mean details of a 911 medical call had to be hand-written on a slip and handed to an EMS dispatcher just a few feet away and in the same room.

The administration claimed there have been no delays as a result of the multiple failures, Lamb reported.

Operators logged about 100 calls during the first outage.

The first failure was reported at 7:28 a.m. and lasted until 8:09 a.m. It was followed by more failures off and on throughout the day.

When asked about the alarming incidents, Israel Miranda, President of Local 2507 of the Uniformed EMT Union, said, “Oh definitely, it’s been anywhere from five to seven times.”

Miranda said while the EMS dispatch system is still operating on the old system and not yet on the newly installed $2 billion Integrated Computer Assisted Dispatch System, or ICAD, the entire system has been problematic.

“Of course the city’s gonna say it’s the old EMS system, but we never had any problems like this before until they introduced this new ICAD system, but they spent so much money on this system they can’t admit that it has problems,” Miranda said.

The FDNY issued the following statement Monday evening, which said in part:

“Beginning at around 7:45 a.m. this morning, the FDNY’s computer dispatch system for EMS calls began experiencing technical problems followed by intermittent outages totaling about 90 minutes of system downtime. During the outages, call takers have handled and dispatched calls manually. No calls were lost.

“Technicians are conducting various diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the EMS system problems. The outages have not affected the two other dispatch systems — ICAD and Starfire — which dispatch police and firefighting resources.”

It’s the latest in a series of outages since the new system was installed at the end of May. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the system, saying despite the glitches, no calls have been lost since its implementation.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)