Another day another complaint about Oak Lawn’s dispatching services under Norcomm Public Safety Communications, a private company hired to replace fired union workers.
If one firefighter/paramedic is right, the number of mistakes by the privatized 9-1-1 dispatchers is about one a day compared to about one a month with the past unionized dispatchers who served for decades at the village’s dispatch center. It’s difficult to tell because paramedics, firemen and police officers have been reportedly told to quit reporting such mistakes.
Now Facebook has erupted again with a complaint from local resident Dawn Sodaro, who posted on Thursday about her first experience of dealing with the privatized dispatchers:
Well this is my first time dealing with a true emergency through our 911 system and i must say i am disgustingly disappointed. A woman got hit by a car on 99 th and central. I did not witness but i was on my way home from work and live right on the corner. I saw the woman lying in the street, jumped out of my car and immediately dialed 911. She could not move her leg. I am going to foia the call. The ridiculous questions i was asked by the operator before they sent someone out were just insane. Another man who was at the site said “are they seriously asking you these questions before they send someone? ” Operator finally says we are sending someone, we are getting several calls now. I must also note that the officer initially on the scene asked her if she was hurt (clearly she is lying in the middle of the street), she says i can’t move my left leg. He says have you tried to move it (hello if you have an injured person, you do not move them unless you know what you are doing, i told the woman do not move), and i said that, then the officer says did you try to stand up, once again i said really? You don’t make an injured person move. Thankfully the paramedics arrived. I will be sending an email to the oak lawn officials. So very disappointed.
Sodaro, whose husband once served as a School District 122 Board Member and unsuccessfully sought to be elected as an Oak Lawn Village Trustee, opened up a storm of complaints and debate with her recent post.
Sodaro has not been the only person to note that she found the dispatching service to be unsatisfactory compared to the unionized employees. Many other Oak Lawn residents jumped into the conversation supporting Sodaro with references to past issues.
One resident, referring to the many reported instances of dispatchers not knowing were streets were located, said that Sodaro was lucky that the dispatcher knew the location of 99th and Central Avenue was in Oak Lawn. Another residents said, “I called a few months ago regarding an incident and the operator kept telling me that the police officers said it was not a valid address. Then I found out she was sending them to Evergreen Park and not Oak Lawn.”
Another resident told his story of dealing with the privatized 9-1-1 dispatchers writing that his neighbor had a heart attack outside in the snow and that the dispatcher reported it to the fire department as a person who had passed out. The resident credited the fire department for realizing it was more likely a heart attack.
Yet another resident had their own horror story, writing, “…had an incident this summer…a neighbor fell about 20 ft out of a tree, flat on his back, screaming help me, with a chain saw and the dispatcher said can you tell if he’s hurt… really?????”
Colleen Elizabeth, a repeat defender of the current administration on Facebook, wrote “They’ll pull the tapes as usual and get to the bottom of it.” Unfortunately, despite repeated mistakes changes have not been made to improve service from the company.
In fact, a firefighter/paramedic posted “…Most of these dispatchers we have now do make many more mistakes than the previous highly trained, experienced, professional, union dispatchers we had before. I hear at least one mistake every day I work compared to one mistake a year by our previous union dispatchers.”
Mayor Sandra Bury’s administration fired over 20 unionized dispatchers and replaced them with a private company that has donated $1,000 to her campaign. The company also purchased an advertisement saluting Bury’s chief political adviser, and former campaign manager, Tom Phelan as “man of the year”.
Despite numerous complaints, including one in which there was a delay in sending the police to stop a drunk driver, who caused an accident on 95th and Cicero, the administration has refused to replace the politically connected firm.