City Council Holds Hearing on NYC 911 Glitches

Sofia Russo, whose 4-year-old daughter was killed in a crash on the Upper West Side, said she was "haunted" by a four-minute ambulance delay

Friday, Jun 21, 2013  |  Updated 10:13 PM EDT
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The mother of a 4-year-old girl who was killed in a deadly crash gave emotional testimony at a City Council hearing Friday looking into claims the city's new, $2 billion emergency response system is not working properly. Tracie Strahan reports.

NBC 4 New York

The mother of a 4-year-old girl who was killed in a deadly crash gave emotional testimony at a City Council hearing Friday looking into claims the city's new, $2 billion emergency response system is not working properly. Tracie Strahan reports.

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The mother of a 4-year-old girl who was killed in a deadly crash gave emotional testimony at a City Council hearing Friday looking into claims the city's new, $2 billion emergency response system is not working properly.

Sofia Russo said that she was "haunted" by the four-minute delay in getting an ambulance to her daughter, Ariel, who was died after being struck by an unlicensed driver on the Upper West Side in early June.

"Whatever the truth is, I look to you, the elected officials of the city, to make sure in the future the 911 system works properly," said Russo, who is suing the city over the ambulance delay.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the city believes the technology worked during the emergency, and that human error was most likely responsible for the delay in response time.
 
Some City Council members blamed the new system, though.

"You relied too much on technology that day," Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said to Holloway.

Authorities say no calls coming into the system have been affected in a series of glitches over the last month, but operators sometimes have had to send runners with hand-written messages to dispatchers who then radio emergency responders.

The new dispatch computer system went down four times in May, including three times during its first week in operation. The outages lasted a few minutes to about an hour.

Holloway said small hiccups were to be expected modernizing such a large system but they were few and far between.

He also said the city is now able to track response times better by measuring how long it takes from when the call comes into the system to when an emergency responder makes it to the scene. Response times were previously calculated from the time crews were dispatched, but lawmakers had been asking for years for a more precise measurement.

--Tracie Strahan contributed reporting

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