Human Error Causes 911 Dispatch Computer Failure

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Updated by: Andy Alcock
August 15, 2014

Human error caused a computer shut down at Leon County's 911 emergency call center Thursday.

The problem came the same day as the Consolidated Dispatch Agency's board agreed to pursue an audit of emergency response times.

Workers at Leon County's Consolidated Dispatch Agency so far this year have fielded roughly half a million 911 calls.

On Thursday, a Motorola engineer from a remote location was supposed to load a program to the CDA's testing site for training.

Instead, he sent it to the active computer aided dispatch or CAD system.

"The engineer, by no fault other than his own, uploaded it into a production environment not being tested which crippled the system," said CDA Executive Director Tim Lee.

Instead of using the computer, 911 call takers then wrote destinations for emergency crews on cards and gave them to dispatchers.

"You're talking about walking across the room, so we may have 3 or 4 seconds, but nothing of a critical nature," Lee said.

The issue comes as city administrators have been negotiating with Motorola over past CAD failures.

A late June e-mail called for Motorola to make sure the less than year old CAD system could work 90 days without a problem.

The latest issue comes after it took police 15 minutes to get to fatally shot FSU law professor Dan Markel.

The city auditor is now reviewing emergency response times.

But Commisioner Scott Maddox says the auditor won't likey finish before the dispatch center's budget is approved.

"I told him I'd rather have a good job than a fast job," Maddox said. "The bottom line is we need to make sure we've got adequate response times," he said.

"Anything that comes out of the audit is just going to better us," Lee said.

Lee says the CAD system was down 20 minutes yesterday before it was fixed.

His ongoing investigation in the Markel case has revealed in addition to a dispatcher error, that same CAD system may have contributed to the slow response time.

Lee says he expects to complete a final report on the case in September.

By: Chris Gros
August 5, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox has filed a memo asking for an audit of the consolidated dispatch agency.

It comes after the agency reported that operator Daniel Mills wrongly coded the 911 call in the Dan Markel murder case.

Maddox, in his memo filed to City Auditor Bert Fletcher, wants to know the response time for emergency services in comparison to other communities. The commissioner would also like to see “the policies, procedures and training processes in regards to 911 calls and dispatch services in comparison to best practices and management controls.”

A timeline for the audit has been set for before commissioners approve a five million dollar contribution to the CDA in September.

"Well we have a significant financial investment in the CDA and we spent a lot of money of the tax payer's dollars. That thing ought to be running smoothly and we shouldn't have issues that fall through the cracks. I want to find out what the problems are now and to fix them," said Maddox

Eyewitness News has reached out to CDA Executive Director Timothy Lee, but we have yet to receive comment.

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