9 On Your Side Investigates
911 Glitches: Tucson councilman calls B.S. on Qwest statement
Company declines to answer questions, but declares issues resolved
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Qwest, the company that installed Tucson's troubled 911 system doesn't want to talk, even though it says your safety is key.
Since late May, glitches and kinks have plagued the city's new emergency system and have challenged dispatchers on their job, through faulty screen locators, dropped calls and difficulties monitoring those calls.
"Every computer system when you go live is going to have a few bugs to work out. Every computer system doesn't impact the safety of the public the way this one does though," said Councilmember Steve Kozachik, who has been spearheading efforts to improve the system.
However, up until now, Qwest, the company that installed and maintains the system, has been silent. Concern over the issues increased after records disclosed that a 10-year-old girl died after a dispatcher sent paramedics to the wrong location, with some blaming that mistake on the new system.
KGUN9 News made multiple attempts to arrange an interview wiith Qwest; nevertheless, the company declined and only emailed a statement: " There is no higher priority than the safety of citizens."
Qwest claimed there is no higher priority, but that "priority" apparently does not include the time or opportunity to discuss an emergency that the the company itself installed.
Qwest also stated: "During the installation process, some technical issues were identified but were immediately resolved -- in no case was public safety jeopardized."
9 On Your Side showed the statement to Kozachik, who said it was wrong: "I wish it were true. I wish that public safety was never jeopardized. We know differently, though. And we also know the problems are still continuing. If they weren't continuing, why is Qwest still there trying ot make repairs?"
Indeed, Ron Lewis, the city's Director of General Services, said several Qwest technicans are still at the call center everday, providing technical support. He credits them for being incredibly responsive in fixing problems, but told KGUN9 News their statement isn't entirely correct.
"Certainly they immediately responded. There was never really a problem with their response," Lewis said. "Some of the problems were elusive or technicans had more problems resolving, so they weren't immediately resolved. I wouldn't say they were immediately resolved."
Kozachik agreed. "It doesn't make sense ot say that everything was resolved in the first couple of days, but [Qwest] has been here for the last six weeks trying to fix things. To say that problems have been solved to me are factually incorrect."
The contract that Qwest had with the city requires the company to respond immediately for two months after the installation. In fact, on Tuesday technicians installed a new software patch to resolve more of the kinks.
Lewis said that they have worked out almost all the technical problems and emphasized that at no point in time has public safety been jeopardized. But even if the city wants to revert back to the old system, it is too late: they removed all the hardware for the old one.