911: Has Deregulation Hurt Emergency Response Time?
Almost three months ago, an emergency 911 call from a baby sitter in Richmond, Va., was "automatically and incorrectly" routed to another county, when lifesavers were stationed just three blocks away. The baby died because of poor response time. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that deregulation of the telecommunications industry has complicated the 911 system. Harry Mitchell, spokesman for Bell Atlantic, said, "The 911 centers have been used to dealing with just one company. Now there are more than 100 companies competing for customers and providing critical 911 information." Anna Marie Batt, resource information officer for the National Emergency Number Association, which keeps track of 911 related issues, said, "The biggest problem is, there is no national standard for 911, no federal law. Every state -- and how they're set up -- is totally different." Batt noted that the association is trying to monitor the 911 network to get a better understanding of how deregulation has affected 911 service. Emergency communications officials say that glitches, in 911 systems "appear to be rare." But Capt. Larry Beadles, director of emergency communications for Richmond said, "One is too many" (Holmberg, 5/1). Regarding the death of two-month old Mandrai Green because of the misdirected 911 call, Mitchell noted that Bell Atlantic is "investigating this fully." He added, "This is a very tragic situation. Our hearts go out to the family" (Holmberg, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.