Tucson Council airs 911 troubles
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Troubles with the city's new 911 system took up most of the Tucson City Council's study session Tuesday afternoon.
Since it went on line May 25th 911 operators have complained of dropped calls, faulty caller I-D's and a long list of other trouble.
911 operators have reported trouble with the new system so severe it's been suggested they led to the death of a 10 year old girl, when a bad address delayed an ambulance.
Problems appeared as soon as the system switched on May 25th. Councilmember Steve Kozachik has been pressing for answers for weeks but it took until August 9th for the issue to air out in Council.
City manager Mike Letcher would not agree to answer any of KGUN9's questions, but he did concede to his bosses on City Council the system's had problems and the city did not communicate well on this project.
"Not only in terms of communicating with the employees on the changes and the implications of the changes and involving them in it."
Letcher says the city wants to communicate better with other agencies that use the system and with the public as the city works to resolve the remaining problems.
Tucson's General Services Director Ron Lewis oversees the 911 system. He told the City Council the most severe troubles are taken care of.
Afterward he told us he can't offer a specific timeline on when the remaining troubles will be fixed or how they'll be fixed.
Lewis told KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith:"There aren't specific solutions at this point.
Smith asked: "There's no specific solutions?"
Lewis: "Not for all of those issues."
Councilmember Kozachik says, "yes it matches what I heard here because they don't have a specific time line, they're still fixing things on the fly. This was initially supposed to be a 30 day trial period then it got extended to 60 and we're just kicking the can down the road. For people up here at this table to say the safety of the public has never been at risk is just factually incorrect."
Qwest, which supplied the system has only spoken through written statement until now. A company spokesman called KGUN 9 News Tuesday night.
Mark Molzen says Qwest will commit to the working group Kozachik called for to tackle the problems, but described the problems as more administrative, than technical.
Craig Smith asked him: Would these procedural and administrative issues explain things like, the dropped calls and the issue with the identifiers not appearing on screen as expected? Molzin: Yes they would. Craig:That that's an administrative and not a technical issue? Molzin:"These are administrative and procedural issues.">
The Qwest spokesman attributes the problem to switching from an older style analog system to the current digital system that handles functions differently so it requires different training and procedures.
Qwest is not offering a timeline on when things will run smoothly.
The main point he wanted to make is that Qwest is committed to being in a working group designed to pull together everyone involved in this problem so they can pull together for a solution.