Bill Thompson Calls on Mayor to Fix 'Broken' 911 System

By Colby Hamilton on July 2, 2013 3:45pm 

 Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CITY HALL — Democratic mayoral candidate and former city comptroller Bill Thompson believes the city's new 911 emergency system is "losing hundreds if not thousands of emergency calls" — and called on the Bloomberg administration to immediately fix any existing problems.

Thompson's comments came after the Daily News cited emails that appear to show high-ranking FDNY officials were aware the new multimillion-dollar 911 system was losing as many as a third of its incoming calls. According to the mayor's office, more than 1 million calls have been received since the new system was put in place in late May.

"[F]ix the broken 911 system now," Thompson said in remarks directed at the mayor. "Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today, right away."

Emergency dispatchers and supervisors were discussing the dropped calls less than a day after the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo, according to the dates of the reported emails. Critics have blamed the new system for the 4-minute delay in emergency response for her death. The city denies the new system was at fault, pointing to a dispatcher shift change instead. Russo's parents have called on the city to fix the system.

Thompson said he believed the problems lie with both the technology and the Bloomberg administration's unwillingness to deal with the situation.

"Rather than continue to deny things, continue to point fingers, continue to drag their feet, the city administration needs to move instantly…[to] put the fixes in place, and move forward," Thompson said.

Thompson said if the administration can't figure out a way to verify the system was "working 100 percent," the city should plan to return to the previous emergency system.

Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, sharply disagreed with the news report, calling it "shoddy" along with Thompson's math.

"Under his false theory, 300,000 calls were lost in the last month. There would be disasters every single day if that were true — but there aren’t," LaVorgna said in an email. "The fact is the technology works and has improved response times, one of the reasons every life-saving measurement continues to improve."

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