“We, the grand jurors, find that the current Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system to be an effective system, which does not need to be changed at this time,” the grand jury’s findings read.
The presentment made shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday also includes three recommendations to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, none of which include retooling or replacing the system.
Included in the recommendations, however, is the suggestion of better communication between and among Carroll County E-911, law enforcement, emergency responders and county and municipal governments.
District 3 Commissioner Ashley Hendrix requested the grand jury look into the 911 system in August.
“I’m disappointed in their findings, but I have no regrets,” Hendrix said. “Because I stood up for what I believed in.”
Hendrix said that while the outcome of the probe was not the one she desired, she does not regret making the request. She also said she appreciated the investigation that she requested being carried out.
Commission Chairman Bill Chappell said he is not surprised the report was so “positive.”
“I am out at the 911 call center often, and I am pleased with its management,” Chappell said. “So I am pleased with this result.”
Chappell praised E-911 Director Trisha Orr, saying it’s a “tough department to be in charge of.”
Hendrix requested the grand jury because of June incident in which a Temple man died after emergency responders were sent to the wrong address.
Fred Langley, 73, of Temple fell in his driveway June 28 and died from diabetic shock. His wife, Reba, called 911 at 2:30 p.m. that day, telling emergency dispatchers to send responders to their house on Kathy Lane in Temple. Instead, responders went to Kathy Lane in Carrollton, about nine miles away, before realizing the mistake.
Chappell had called the mixup “pure human error.” He said the dispatcher responsible was terminated, saying there is “no room for errors like this.”
But Hendrix maintained that she believes the system caused the problem instead of the dispatcher. She said she voted against the county purchase of the CAD system after investigating a similar system in Coweta County.
“They got rid of their system,” Hendrix told the Times-Georgian in July. “At the time I talked with them, Carroll County took more calls than Coweta. And Coweta got rid of the system because of errors and dropped calls.”
Chappell disagreed with Hendrix, saying she didn’t have all the facts.
“Commissioner Hendrix spoke without knowledge or facts, and she has created severe problems for the county government,” Chappell said.
The grand jury met for three full days last week, Tuesday through Thursday. The jurors came back Thursday morning to vote on the drafted presentment, which was done unanimously in favor.
The grand jurors inspected the Carroll County E-911 site last week and observed the dispatchers at work in the 911 center. Jurors also heard testimony both on site and later in the courthouse. Also examined were various documents and 911 recordings. The grand jury heard testimony from county commissioners, members of law enforcement and other government employees.
Also in the presentment was a recommendation that the county user board, made up of all agencies involved in the emergency response process — including police departments, sheriff’s office, fire stations, the E-911 center and EMS — be “more engaged in the operations of Carroll County E-911,” as set by the county’s service delivery strategy, an agreement between the county and municipalities for how certain services should be delivered.
Carroll County’s service delivery strategy, which is up for its 10-year renewal this year, requires the user board to meet once per month and give recommendations to commissioners.
Coweta Circuit District Attorney Peter Skandalakis said the user board is supposed to be used primarily as an advisory or “sounding” board.
“The user board has not met as regularly as they should,” Skandalakis said. “And the grand jury wants that resource to be utilized.”
The grand jury finding concerning the user board reads, “The proper use of this board would have avoided some of the problems arising from a lack of communication among E-911 service users and county officials.”
Carroll County Attorney Cynthia Daley, Orr and shift supervisor DJ Perkins said the dispatcher did not ask the right questions of Langley during the call.
In all dispatchers’ employee manuals, Orr said, there is a list of questions to ask of callers. Orr said it has always been a part of dispatchers’ training and standard operating procedures for the call center.
First, dispatchers are trained to ask for the address of where the emergency is.
Second, the dispatcher is supposed to ask for or verify a cross street, a road that is near to the emergency address. For instance, the cross street for Kathy Lane in Temple is Bar J Road. In Carrollton, it’s Ho Lynn Trail. This is where the error occurred, Orr said, as this verification was not obtained by the dispatcher.
Perkins, the shift supervisor on June 28, said the dispatcher should have asked immediately what road Kathy Lane is “off of.”
“She confirmed the address,” he said. “And then, automatically, the next question is, ‘What’s that run off of?’ If the system automatically gives you a cross street, then you still verify it.”
In the call 911 recording on June 28 provided to the Times-Georgian, Langley can be heard stating she needed an ambulance to 60 Kathy Lane in Temple, Ga.
The operator then sent responders to “60 Kathy Lane” off “Ho Lynn Trail,” two streets in Carrollton.
Once there, responders asked dispatch if the caller meant Kathy Circle, seeing that there was no 60 Kathy Lane in Carrollton.
“Stand by, let me check,” the operator said. “They advised a 60 Kathy Lane.”
Once realizing the mistake, the operator canceled the Carrollton responders and asked for Temple Fire Department.
“You can cancel, I apologize,” she said. “This one is going to be the one in Temple. (Engine) 42, will you be in route to 60 Kathy Lane.”
Temple responders told the operator they were already en route.
The Board of Commissioners approved the $150,000 purchase of the system in 2010.
The final paragraph of the findings reads, “After careful consideration of the available evidence, we find that the CAD system now being used was not responsible for recent unfortunate incidents of misdirected emergency responders and that those incidents were most likely caused by human error.”