PIX11 takes a closer look at the anatomy of a 911 call

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Brooklyn, NEW YORK (PIX11) — PIX11 was following city ambulances Tuesday, just blocks from the 911 call center in downtown Brooklyn that’s been under a harsh spotlight, ever since a 4-year-old girl lay dying on the Upper West Side last week, waiting for medical treatment to arrive.

All 911 calls initially go to NYPD operators at 11 Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, before they’re given to “assignment receiving dispatchers” — who are working from computers on the same floor.  Medical calls go to EMS dispatchers, the FDNY gets fire cases, and NYPD dispatchers handle criminal complaints.

EMS reportedly fields 3,200 calls a day in the five boroughs. All ambulances waiting to receive 911 calls are given cross streets where they’re supposed to stand by, also known as “89” locations.

Paramedics are never supposed to travel more than a three-block radius away from an “89” location.  A GPS secured inside the ambulance can tell dispatchers where it’s located.

Despite a $2 billion upgrade recently, veteran EMS paramedics and supervisors say the 911 computer assignment system has been riddled with glitches, with one long-time EMT telling PIX11, “Jobs lost in cyberspace: that’s our biggest nightmare right now.”

The veteran told PIX, “A couple of times a day, we’re not seeing jobs moving properly from the 911 system.”  Regarding the jobs, the EMS supervisor said to PIX11, “They’ll pop up on our screens, after being there 20 minutes or longer.”

When PIX11’s Narmeen Choudhury caught up with FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano Tuesday, asking him about the delays that are being reported, he replied, “I’ve ordered an investigation.  I believe people are not telling the truth, so I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”

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