Trouble at the other end of 911: Inside Ramsey County's emergen...

This text is replaced by the Flash movie. Police on emergency runs were sent to wrong addresses, sometimes in the wrong cities. Full Story
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Steven

Minneapolis, MN

#1 Jul 5, 2008
So you are not a "team player" if you blow the whistle on a problem huh? Typical for St. Paul and Ramsey County.
Mike M - Maplewood

Saint Paul, MN

#2 Jul 5, 2008
Thank goodness we have an elected sheriff who is free to speak his opinion. If Ramsey County would have gotten that appointed sheriff that some on the county board wanted, he would have been ordered by county manager David Twa to keep silent.

Again, thank goodness for an elected sheriff. Good checks and balances in government
Tina

Saint Paul, MN

#3 Jul 6, 2008
Sounds like a very stressful and chaotic place of work. Hopefully when I need to call 911, there will not be any confusion as where to send help.
Anonny

Saint Paul, MN

#4 Jul 6, 2008
I can't wait to get to work and watch the flame war erupt in this comment section between all the day shirt hens who are the source of half the stress in the place. :-)
Deputy shamalama

United States

#5 Jul 6, 2008
I dont think the dispatching has been all that bad. I get to my call. Few bugs here and there. The world's not perfect. It's stressfull job those folks have. I give them credit.
There's something else going on? This would just be a smoke cloud for what's coming?
Every-buddy wants to rule the world....
Deputy Dog

United States

#6 Jul 6, 2008
I am in the security contracting industry and have a lot of contact with this center... Often, I'm asked questions that have nothing to do with why I'm calling, indicating there is a lack of ability in the first place. I was asked how tall a man is, after explaining that the man is in a wheelchair. Wasted time and effort, resulting in criminals gone by the time I can get a police unit on the scene... This "is" a huge problem and symptomatic of the need for managment changes there...
Paul

Saint Paul, MN

#7 Jul 6, 2008
Sounds like another power grab from King Fletcher. He seems to want to control everything. Every office has workers that don't like change and this sounds like another example of that. The difference is that someone went to the press, and they decided to hype it up to make a story out of it. No call center ha a perfect record and I'm sure most of the employees there try very hard. Like the article said, mistakes happened at the old call centers too. If the employees are so distraught they should be working with their union to resolve the issues or quit if it is too stressful.
Jack Bauer

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Jul 6, 2008
Chloe, tell Buchanan that we should train Ramsey County to run their 9-1-1 Center the way we run CTU!
Buttomfly

Madison, WI

#10 Jul 6, 2008
This has the potential for disaster. The same kind of mixup occured in Madison and a death resulted. See:http://www.jsonline.com/st ory/index.aspx?id=746235

This girl called police for help..after being disconnected the 911 center did not follow policy and call her back. A second call did not result in an officer being sent. Brittany Zimmerman ended up being beaten to death with no one even attempting to answer the call. The lawsuit will be horrendous. A little proactive response from Sherrif Fletcher now just might prevent such a tragedy as this.

Key points from the article:

"When a person's life is in danger or an officer is exposing him or herself to danger, there's no room for error. They have to be perfect," said Fletcher, a member of the Dispatch Policy Committee, an advisory body to the ECC composed of public officials.

One dispatcher said workers are upset by what they see as a decline in service.

The center's "cumbersome, confusing" phone system has employees dealing with "dropped calls, calls placed on hold by one person that cannot be picked up by another, and difficulty in placing non-emergency calls on hold to pick-up incoming 911 calls," Kurr wrote in a January St. Paul Police Federation newsletter.

Dealing with the phone system has been a combination of employees' spending time getting used to it and tweaking it to work better, Williams said.

Because of the ECC's problems, Fletcher said he plans to have his office analyze data about how the center performs between Monday and Aug. 7. If things haven't improved, the sheriff said, he may move to take over the center.

But Fletcher is misreading the Minnesota statute he is relying on for his potential takeover bid, said Twa, the county manager.

"The only question that really needs asking and answering is,'Are the people who are being served getting a better service now than before the merger?' and the answer is,'Absolutely not,' " said the dispatcher. "The biggest fear is that someone's going to die and it will have been preventable."

The dispatcher asked not to be named, afraid of losing a job after the center's director sent a memo to employees saying "behavior that undermines teamwork needs to change." The memo cited, as an example, making statements to "persons outside the department that demonstrate distrust in the skills or ability of a group of coworkers."

Since: Jul 08

Minneapolis, MN

#11 Jul 6, 2008
The map app they're using might be fixed by the software vendor who may have built into the software application automated compatibility
with USPS-based address updates (the monthly ZIP + 4 product and the EWS weekly update which most people don't know about, cited below) which Map Quest, maps.live.com and other map apps might use. You don't even need the more expensive real-time Delivery Point Validation. Governments may get the same info directly from the counties but it may not be standardized.

Bob Fletcher has the insight to identify the problems. We should all thank Sheriff Fletcher for addressing software failure in the Ramsey county Emergency Communications Center. Nobody is saying let's render Bob Fletcher's face in the next St. Paul fireworks display, but let's recognize his good intention. It is not ego. It is responsibility.

http://ribbs.usps.gov/brochures/cass/

"Early Warning System (EWS)– EWS is a file that lists by ZIP Code new street names that are not yet available within the ZIP + 4 product.
Today, ZIP + 4 product is extracted from the Address Management System (AMS) approximately 30 days before its “official” release date. New
streets that are activated after extract of the monthly ZIP + 4 product release are not accessible to address matching products until a
subsequent product release. If a valid address is updated with erroneous match results, the address will remain incorrect unless there is
manual intervention. Published weekly, the EWS file prevents potential miscodes of new streets that are added to the ZIP + 4 database between
the monthly scheduled updates."

Jamie
Paul

Minneapolis, MN

#12 Jul 6, 2008
My money is on Fletcher. If there were not real problems, he wouldn't be taking the political risk in such a bold move. Who ya gonna believe, a bunch of bureaucrats lying to look good or Fleter who just calls thing the way he sees them without regard to what people think?
StPaulite

Brooklyn, NY

#15 Jul 6, 2008
Paul wrote:
Sounds like another power grab from King Fletcher. He seems to want to control everything. Every office has workers that don't like change and this sounds like another example of that. The difference is that someone went to the press, and they decided to hype it up to make a story out of it. No call center ha a perfect record and I'm sure most of the employees there try very hard. Like the article said, mistakes happened at the old call centers too.
I agree. Why aren't the other law enforcement officals speaking out?? Seems like the Sheriff found someone who will listen (Mara) and rag to print his agenda (Pioneer Press).

Neither the Pioneer Press or the Sheriff care about the good people answering calls. Now they are being used as a political pawn by the Sheriff and to sell newspapers by the Press.

The Sheriff already tried a combined center with Maplewood and it fell apart. Now, with the timing of "taking control" of the center before the RNC, not one year into the full merger? Looks like he wants a way to get in front of the national media in September AND try to control St. Paul PD!

I feel sorry for the employees of the ECC being used like this by a not-so honorable man.

Thank you dispatchers and call-takers for all the lives that you have SAVED! I'm sure it happens daily in a center like that. Good job!!
concerned parent

Saint Paul, MN

#16 Jul 6, 2008
my daughter is employed at this center and I am deeply concerned about the way the center is being run the mountains of overime the worker's are required to take on,the lack of training before they are put on the boardsand the short staffing and it seems management is trying to minimize all this for the almighty dollar,rather than the safety and wellbeing of law inforcement firefighter's and emergency medical personal as well as the citizens of Ramsey county and its dispatch employee's.my daughter loves her job don't get me wrong that is why she continue's to work under these condition's even though the cost of her health and family is at stake.kudo's to Bob Fletcher for stepping up on this matter.
Stephen Canavan

United States

#17 Jul 6, 2008
Savage Fan wrote:
I wonder if Ebonics has anything to do with the miscommunications?
LOL It is unfortunate that some people in the service sector have poor language skills.
Workaday Oakdale Brother

Saint Paul, MN

#18 Jul 6, 2008
Savage Fan wrote:
I wonder if Ebonics has anything to do with the miscommunications?
What about all of the White folks in MN who say "borrow" when they should say "lend" (e.g., "Lars borrowed me $5 for a new fishing lure"). You guys aren't perfect, you know.
Heywood Ja

Minneapolis, MN

#19 Jul 6, 2008
Cindy Stainker wrote:
<quoted text>
Sharon, have you read the article? This is not about the City Councel or Kathy Lantry, I personally don't care for her either. But this is not about her, this is an article about problems in the Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center.
Cindy,

Sharon's a Nut-Job that comes on here to try to spew her own personal agenda to try and garner support for her cause(s). I think she thinks that if she pukes it out there enoough, people will start believing it.

Oh, and by the way, don't click on her Hyperliks that she posts. It tries to install Spyware on your machine.
concerned

Saint Paul, MN

#20 Jul 6, 2008
The mapping software with street addresses is so old and outdated, its no wonder that continues cropping up as an issue. Last I heard, the center had barely tasked anyone to updating it, and it would take years for the staff they have dedicated to it, to update, just what we have now. Training continues to be a problem for newer employees, who are still unable to gain the appropriate info for a call.
annoymous

Minneapolis, MN

#21 Jul 6, 2008
This is an example where money is not well spent and used properly. The creation of merging into one, big happy emergency service communication center by the county is arguably the most STUPIDEST and irresponsible idea in the history of public safety. There is no benefits to it; government just gets bigger and less oversight of agency functions as local politicians continue to represent the the status quo in public life, rather than serving towards the function of the people.

The problem would had been much easier to neutralized if any elected official in RC would basically get off their lazy asses and do something about the situation with the county's emergency communication center status. You explain to me upon how much my tax dollars are being thrown out the window by these inept bozos, working in the 911 center where they can't find a proper street on a map within the township area. I don't want someone like Fletcher or Twa to tell me that they can't do a better job over there; I want several government-employed workers at that agency to be FIRED for putting the public at risk for a lack of common sense!!
SUGA

Minneapolis, MN

#22 Jul 6, 2008
I FEEL SOOOO SORRY FOR THESE OPERATORS AND DISPATCHERS. I WORK FOR THE MINNEAPOLIS COMMUNICATIONS CENTER AND I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT IF THEY HAVE THE INADEQUATE STAFFING THAT WE HAVE THEN THAT WOULD BE TO BLAME FOR THE PROBLEMS SUCH AS ENTERING A CALL FOR A WRONG ADD AND NOT THE OPERATOR. IF THEY WEREN'T GETTING BEAT UP ON CALLS RINGING OFF THE HOOK THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THEIR TIME ON EACH CALL INSTEAD OF BEING RUSHED. I KNOW OUR CENTER WON'T ALLOW US TO TELL THE PUBLIC THAT AT TIMES THERE ARE OFTEN ONLY 2 OF US ANSWERING CALLS FOR THE ENTIRE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS BUT THEY ARE QUICK TO SIDE WITH THE PUBLIC WHEN ONE OF US MAKES A MISTAKE AND IT MAKES THE NEWS! THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAS NO IDEA WHAT GOES ON IN 911 CENTERS AND HOW MANY ABUSES WE TAKE FROM CALLERS AND MANAGEMENT WHO DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO RECTIFY PROBLEMS IN THE WORK PLACE. IT DOESN'T HELP WITH NEWS STORIES LIKE THIS ONE THE COULD LEAD PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT THE OPERATORS ARE INCOMPETENT WHEN THEY ARE IN ONE OF THE HARDEST JOBS THERE IS AND WORK HARD DOING THEIR PART TO SAVES LIVES EVERY SINGLE DAY. IT WOULD BE NICE IF SOME NEWS PERSON WOULD STOP BY THE RAMSEY COUNTY OR MINNEAPOLIS CENTER UNANNOUCED DURING A BUSY TIME OF THE DAY SO THEY CAN SEE HOW HARD WE WORK AND THOSE OF US WHO ARN'T AFRAID TO SPEAK UP AND SHOW YOU ALL THE FLAWS WITH MANAGEMENT, STAFFING AND EQUIPMENT WHICH ARE THE REAL CAUSES FOR ERROR OVER HUMAN ERROR.
Getting Old

Saint Paul, MN

#23 Jul 6, 2008
Some of the dispatchers from the "previous" Ramsey County dispatch center (3 or 4 of them) need to sit down, shut up and do thier job. Maybe if they spent less time trying to find fault in everyone and everything they would be able to become part of an great group of people who are working as hard as they can to turn the center into the best center it can be. It's too bad that instead of working hard to help the center prosper, they choose to spend their time whining and complaining to the Sheriff.

Management needs to take a look at how they are handling all of this. They need to find a backbone and a little humility, admit there are some areas such as training, staffing and policy issues that they dropped the ball on and admit they need help and then enlist in their staff to help them. Stop spending so much time trying to find a quick solution and start using your heads. You have incredible resources right under your noses and yet you are insisting on wasting tax payers money by not utilizing what you already have at your disposal! It's insulting and disrespectful. It starts at the top.

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