Investigation Results Back on Unnoticed 9-1-1 Call
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Thursday, September 18th, Columbia County Commissioners voted to take control of the 9-1-1 center away from Sheriff Bill Gootee. Plus, they granted the wish of the 9-1-1 caller to know what happened. Thursday, Matt Cason found out it was a human problem, not a computer one.
Email correspondence released by the emergency equipment manufacturer Positron, shows the calls were answered, gives the name of the dispatcher who took the call and shows that the calls were not placed on hold. A printout of the call detail shows it took a dispatcher 10 seconds to answer the call and the call lasted for a minute and 47 seconds. According to a Positron spokesman, the data shows no equipment failure.
"Actually I was surprised," says burn victim Matt Cason. "I didn't know if it was equipment error or not. It was a 50/50 chance I guess in my mind."
Columbia County Commissioner Ron Williams is calling for a formal apology to Cason from both the Board of County Commissioners and the Sheriff.
"It was quite disturbing," says Williams. "We were led to believe that it was equipment error. And if this report is true, it is not, it is human error. And we cannot tolerate that."
Sheriff Bill Gootee did not respond to numerous interview requests
"It is impossible for the equipment to answer on its own," says Columbia County Manager Dale Williams. "Someone either had to answer by touching a screen or manually, hitting a button."
Cason says the dispatcher who somehow did not hear his original call for more than a minute, is the same one who was so helpful once she realized he was on the line. He says he doesn't want her to lose her job...just more training for all dispatchers so it doesn't happen again. Cason also wants Gootee to admit it was a human error.
Cason is physically doing much better. He is wearing compression bandages 23 hours a day on his legs and arms. But doctors have cleared him to do whatever he can do, as long as it is not too uncomfortable. For Cason, that means going back to light-duty work at his own business.
On a related note, county and city leaders will be meeting Wednesday evening to discuss merging 9-1-1 call centers.
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