While most of us slept early this (Tuesday) morning, the United States Secret Service arrested a man with a loaded gun near the White House grounds (details here). Following standard procedure, USSS called in bomb technicians from the Metropolitan Police Department (DC Police) and units from DC Fire and EMS to help check out the man’s vehicle.
When DC’s Office of Unified Communications (OUC or 911 center) dispatched the call at 2:56:34 a.m. to DC Fire and EMS they sent units to Madison Street and 8th Street, NW. That location is almost five miles from the White House complex. The call was actually for Madison Place and H Street, NW at the edge of Lafayette Park (Vermont Avenue also meets at that intersection).
As you will hear and see in the recording above via OpenMHZ, it took almost five minutes for OUC to fix the problem and send the correct units to the correct location. The second dispatch was at 3:01:03 a.m.
I understand that 8 and H can be confused. That’s why most competent call takers will ask, when hearing either 8 or H, something like, “Are you saying the number 8 or H as in Henry?”
In addition, I imagine that the context of the call – including the staging area that was sent to the mobile display terminals and that it was USSS calling – likely didn’t compute for a call at Madison Street and 8th Street, NW. Also, it would be interesting to know where OUC sent the police bomb technicians.
We will post any comments from OUC when they become available.
Regular readers of STATter911.com know that I’ve long been a critic of the 911 center in the Nation’s Capital. News reports in recent months give me the indication there are still serious issues at OUC almost three years after the last director was fired.
Things like call processing times, properly classifying EMS responses and sending help to the right location don’t seem to interest the local news media. But those familiar with public safety understand how key and well trained and properly function 911 center is to the well being of everyone. I will have more to say in the coming days.