911 ‘Human Error’ Cited in NY Girl’s Death

By ABC News

Jun 7, 2013 1:59pm

By Aaron Katersky, Josh Margolin and Jessica Wilder

NEW YORK–New York City officials conceded Friday that human error at the troubled new 911 system delayed emergency medical technicians from responding to the scene where a 4-year-old girl was struck by a car and killed.

“It wasn’t picked up by the person that should have been reading that screen,” New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said today.

After an internal review the FDNY discovered a three-to-four minute gap between the time the call appeared on the computer screen and the time the ambulance was dispatched to the spot where Ariel Russo was hit by a driver fleeing police.

“They just failed to read the screen,” Cassano said. “We’ll deal with that.”

Cassano said this was human error but it follows technological breakdowns at the city’s new 911 system despite the $2 billion cost.

The system went down on four separate occasions last week, including an 11-minute outage May 29, its first day, when operators were unable to automatically route information to police, fire or EMS dispatchers. The next day it broke down twice, for about an hour in the middle of the day and later that night for roughly two minutes, prompting criticism.

City Comptroller John Liu said the city’s safety is being “held hostage to troubled technology.”

Mayor Mike Bloomberg has defended the new system.  ”It has some bugs in it. all new systems have,” Bloomberg has said. “You wish you didn’t have bugs but that is not the real world.”

A scathing report submitted to Mayor Bloomberg’s office by city consultants more than two years ago foreshadowed the problems the city would have in installing the new police-dispatch system:

“Development efforts continue with little to no cross-agency coordination or common vision, resulting in excessive development costs, schedule delays and interface complexity,” according to the report reviewed by ABC News. “Operational improvements to processes haven’t been established.”

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Image credit: WABC/ABC News

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