CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - When you call 911 you obviously need help, quickly. In Cleveland a total of 95 call takers and dispatchers work to get help to all kinds of emergency situations. They usually do. However, there are challenges.
All city calls go to a new state of the art dispatch center in the brand new 3rd District police headquarters. But there is one huge problem. The system has crashed twice in the past three days.
For 23 minutes Saturday night and 28 minutes early Monday morning. Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis confirmed this.
"The radio system worked you know, the dispatchers could talk to the cars but the citizens couldn't talk to the dispatchers."
So if you called to report a heart attack, a crime or a fire you were out of luck, according to Loomis
"We got lucky this weekend there was no reports of anything like that happening but that's rolling the dice. Sooner or later we're gonna be paying the price for this system that keeps going up and down," Loomis said.
Just last week members of city council's safety committee got a tour of the facility and were impressed according to Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone
"These dispatchers have state of the art equipment and new abilities to receive calls not only from land line phone calls but cellular calls as well." He is right that is an improvement.
Until the new dispatch unit came on line, 911 calls were routed first to the county and its Cecoms communications center. Dispatchers there figured out where you were and routed the call to the proper agency.
The new system, at least on paper takes that step out of the process, according to Zone.
"When these calls come in through a cell phone tower it automatically gets routed right to this building."
Loomis agrees but cautions.
"These calls for service that our dispatchers are handling have gone through the roof to the point that it crashes the system," Loomis said.
Whether it's a volume problem or something else remains as unclear as a solution. A brief statement from the city said any outages were minor and due to software upgrades.
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