Tucson 911: Qwest concedes technical errors--or does it?
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Is the city of Tucson's new 911 system fatally flawed, or do operators and dispatchers just not know how to use it?
It's becoming a swearing match over a system that could save you or fail you.
The city's new system went on line months ago, and problems are still being reported.
Considering what's at risk when you call... There really isn't any room for error.
Now a City Councilman pushing for answers says the company that installed the system has finally conceded technical trouble is leading to dropped calls. But the company's still telling us operator error's to blame.
911 operators started reporting dropped calls and missing call locators almost as soon as the city switched to the new system May 25, but it was this week before City Council heard a presentation on the issue.
General Services Director Ron Lewis said the system had problems but it's working well now and getting better.
He said Qwest, the system provider had been unable to document any dropped calls.
That night a Qwest spokesperson pinned the problems not on technical trouble but on what he called administrative and procedural issues.
On Tuesday, KGUN 9 reporter Craig Smith asked Qwest spokesman Mark Molzin: "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."
Smith:"That that's an administrative and not a technical issue?"
Molzin: "These are administrative and procedural issues."
The presentation to Council included a promise supervisors, operators and Qwest would meet to work out any remaining issues.
Councilmember Steve Kozachik, who's pressed hardest on this issue, says in the latest meeting Qwest conceded the system had dropped calls from technical trouble, not operator mistakes.
Kozachik says, "They're sure admitting and finally. The dispatchers have been fighting this thing from day one."
KGUN9 News checked back with Qwest.
Mark Molzin says he checked with two Qwest representatives in that meeting and they say they never conceded technical reasons for dropped calls. Molzin continues to cite administrative and procedural issues.
Kozachik says if it really is a matter of operator error that means Qwest and the City failed to make sure 911 workers were properly trained before they switched to the new system and dismantled the old one.
Kozachik concedes he's getting his tips from worried 911 workers.
Craig Smith asked him: "Are you concerned that there will be some sort of retribution? Kozachik: No, because I have sent the City Manager, twice, and I've sent the City Attorney, twice, a copy of the text of the whistleblower law in this state and I've let them know that if I get any indication, any hint that there's retaliation going on, I will be all over them like white on rice."