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First Responders Delayed By Human Error

9-1-1. It is commonly the first phone number parents teach their children. It “is the emergency telephone number for the North American Numbering Plan.” And with this dedicated number, we have expectations of extremely rapid service when we call 911. But sometimes human error can delay first responders.

History of 911

The push for the development of a nationwide American emergency telephone number came “in 1957 when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended that a single number be used for reporting fires.” This became the national emergency number in 1968 for callers to access police, fire and ambulance services. While 911 may have been established in 1968, it was not until well into 1980s that most municipalities established 911 service.

The 911 system has an address database that connects an incoming phone number to the assigned address. This allows emergency personnel to locate emergencies when the caller is unable to give a street address.

911 Problems

Even with this established emergency phone number to contact help quickly, problems can occur. As noted, the 911 system was not established in most municipalities until the late 1980s. This meant that individual communities had different standard seven-digit emergency numbers, as opposed to the simple three-digit 911. If you were visiting an area without 911 service, it would be necessary to know the specific seven-digit emergency number.

With the advent of cell phones, which are designed to be mobile, finding a person’s location was only possible if the person calling could tell the emergency operator where they were. There is an FCC rule that requires all phones to be GPS-capable to aid first responders in pinpointing accident locations. And updated systems are being put into place, like in New York City.

New York City 911

There have been a few glitches in the new NYC 911 system. “In recent weeks, just as the new $88 million dispatch relay system is coming online, emergency operators in New York City have been forced on multiple occasions to resort to using pen and paper to record 911 calls and dispatch emergency workers after their computer system went dark.”

Human Error

Even with these computer glitches, first responders got to their destinations quickly. The latest problem however is being blamed on human error. A young girl was struck by a sport utility vehicle (SUV) while on the sidewalk. An unlicensed teenager was driving the SUV, trying to flee from police. The young girl suffered extensive injuries. The emergency call was answered and forwarded to emergency medical workers, but then no one saw the call for four minutes. “Someone else noticed it and sent an ambulance that arrived four minutes after that. The usual response time is about 90 seconds faster.”

The young girl was alive when emergency medical personnel arrived. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, the young girl was pronounced dead.

While this tragedy is heart-rending, hundreds of calls are answered by 911 operators and immediate assistance is sent. When you are in an accident and have an emergency, call 911 for assistance. Once your situation is stable, call our NY personal injury attorneys to help protect your rights.

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