Mayor Ben McAdams once again calling for unified 911 system

SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC 4 Utah) – Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is once again calling for changes to the 911 system after some confusion regarding a Draper man’s call for help.

On January 16th a 50 year old Draper man called 911 because he believed he was having a heart attack, but instead of coming here to the Valley Emergency Communications Center, or VECC, his call was routed to Salt Lake City’s 911 call center.

Salt Lake City’s 911 Dispatch Director Scott Freitag told ABC 4 Utah, "In the middle of the call after we were able to get his name address and phone number and what was wrong, for some reason, the called dropped."

Sandy city contracts with Salt Lake City’s 911 dispatch, but because the man lived outside of the Salt Lake's jurisdiction, they had to transfer the information to VECC.

VECC’s Quality Assurance and Information Coordinator Geana Randall explained, "Given that they live in Draper when we got that information the Salt Lake dispatcher gave us the information so that we could send Unified Fire Authority.”

That response was never sent, not because the calls were dropped several times, but because the man refused help not once but twice.

Freitag said, "During that second phone call, when he called in, he told the call taker that he was feeling better that he wanted to wait to have help sent. The dispatcher confirmed with him and he said ‘yes, I am feeling better and if something changes I’ll call back.’"

When the man's wife came home 40 minutes later, he was dead.

While it was the caller who refused help, there was still some confusion between 911 centers and that's why Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says his plan for a unified 911 dispatch system needs to move forward.

"I'm calling for something even greater,” said Mayor McAdams. “It is a unified software platform throughout Salt Lake Valley, but it's also a unified management system for our 911 systems.

VECC's new executive director agrees there needs to be one unified computer aided dispatch system, but this latest idea of a unified management is news to him.

John Inch Morgan told ABC 4 Utah, "That's something I don't know if I can respond to because I represent 17 different entities and each of those cities and entities may have a different opinion."

Changing opinion is what Mayor McAdams is ready to do in order, he says, to change the future of not only Salt Lake Valley's, but Utah’s 911 system.

"It's a future where the closest ambulance is the one who responds regardless of what's printed on the side of the vehicle,” said McAdams.

Mayor McAdams is working with Representative Brad Dee on creating legislation that would create this unified 911 system. Rep. Dee says his vision is that one day a police officer in Logan can share information with an officer in St. George on the same system. It’s unclear if the legislation will be drafted this legislative session.

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