An Allegheny County 911 dispatcher has been suspended after mistakenly sending emergency crews to incorrect locations in the city of Pittsburgh twice in recent weeks.
Communications manager Bob Harvey said the first incident happened Aug. 29, when a woman called and said someone was breaking into her Frederick Street home on the North Side and the dispatcher sent crews to an address near a cell phone tower instead.
The second incident happened early Sunday morning, when a man called 911 in distress from a room on the 16th floor of the downtown Doubletree Hotel and the dispatcher sent crews to Oakland instead, Harvey said.
The name of the dispatcher has not been made public. An internal hearing about the two incidents involving that person is scheduled to be held this week.
The office of Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato issued the following statement Tuesday night:
"We seem to have a problem with human error with this particular call taker. We've had a few other issues where people are making mistakes. Mistakes are concerning and it's something we have to address. Dan Onorato has asked Chief Full to review and possibly increase the quality assurance/quality control to ensure that the call takers have proper training."
Harvey said a call can come into 911 via a landline, which shows the address of a home or a business name and phone number; or via Phase 2 wireless, which shows the name and phone number and a nearby intersection within 50 yards of where the call is originating from; or via Phase 1 wireless, which shows the house address and the cell tower address.
In the North Side incident, Harvey said he believes the dispatcher may have downloaded the cell tower address instead of the home address. He said the call was dispatched at 6:07 a.m., the error was discovered at 6:10 a.m. and responders arrived at 6:20 a.m. and reported that everything was fine.
In the second incident, Harvey said emergency responders were sent to 1 Bigelow Blvd. in Oakland instead of 1 Bigelow Square downtown, which is the Doubletree's address. He said some of the paramedics and first responders couldn't think of an Oakland hotel that had 16 floors, so some of them alertly diverted toward downtown just in case.
Harvey said paramedics arrived at the Oakland address at 1:53 a.m. and reported that it was the wrong location, and paramedics arrived at the correct location at 1:54 a.m. He said he's not aware of the current medical condition of the original 911 caller.
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