Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why Access Matters...

If you can't get access to the 911 calls -- and you can't in many, if not most, states -- then citizens have no way short of taking their word for it to determine whether the system works:

Under the law governing the 911 enhanced emergency call system, only the police chief here will be able to listen to two calls from people who complained they were handled inefficiently by Androscoggin County dispatchers.

Sheriff Guy Desjardins plans meet with police Chief Ernest Steward Jr. prior to the next selectmen's meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, and will then meet with selectmen to answer questions, Desjardins said Thursday.

He and Steward plan to have reports ready then.

Desjardins defended his dispatchers' handling of the calls in question after listening to the audio tapes of two separate incidents earlier this month.

In one case, the time of arrival of an ambulance is in dispute. Desjardins says a person can be heard on the tape answering a dispatcher's question affirmatively when asked if the ambulance had arrived. That response time was within 4½ minutes.

The person who made the complaint, Richard Korhonen of Livermore Falls, said it took more than 15 minutes and he said the dispatcher was not listening.

Korhonen was one of two people to voice concern to selectmen during a board meeting on Jan. 22.

Selectmen asked Town Manager Martin Puckett and Steward to look into the complaints.

Desjardins initially thought he could make copies of the calls and bring them up so Puckett and Steward could listen to them.

He later learned that the audio recordings are not considered public in Maine, Desjardins said. That includes any medical information about a person receiving emergency services through the E911 system

However, Steward, as a law enforcement officer, would be able to review the calls in question with the sheriff, Desjardins said.

More here.

No comments: