DC councilwoman slams 911 call center for fatal mistakes: 'We need an immediate fix'

D.C. Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau says the 911 call center’s continuous mistakes are alarming and unacceptable. Tragically, it has even resulted in people and animals dying.

That is why Nadeau sent a letter to the City Administrator, Kevin Donahue, and the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) Director, Heather McGaffin, stating deep concern and frustration with the agency’s mismanagement of emergencies and lack of transparency.

"When you’re calling 911, it’s possibly the worst moment of your life. Someone’s having a medical emergency or someone has been hurt, or you need the police. To be put on hold in that moment, it just compounds that fear and upset, so when I hear from constituents who are calling either because they need something or they’re trying to be good Samaritans, and they’re not getting through, that’s not okay," Nadeau said.

"The agency has a documented history of making critical errors, including dispatching EMS to the wrong address, misdirecting calls, failing to prioritize emergencies, and not answering 911 calls," she added. "I think about it a lot as a mom because I have a child with food allergies and if I ever needed to get her to the hospital quickly because she was having an anaphylaxis reaction, I’m not convinced that help would come in time."


DC receives the most 911 calls in the country, study says

New data shows that the District of Columbia receives the most 911 calls on average each year.

FOX 5 was there when floodwaters rushed into the District Dogs location on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast killing 10 dogs. 

Colleen Costello lost her pet in the tragedy. After city officials admitted OUC made mistakes that prevented first responders from being able to get there faster and save more dogs, Costello told FOX 5 she felt: "Rage, disgust. Renewed heartbreak. It’s, it’s just retraumatizing us all over again to know how many times we were failed."

In an effort to hold OUC accountable and get answers, Nadeau is now requesting daily staffing statistics from the past two years, a list of agency mistakes, a briefing about the changes that will be made to fix the systemic failures, as well as a private meeting with leadership.

"This is not a situation where we need a long-term plan, we need an immediate fix, and we need to restore the trust and the confidence in the public that when they call 911, they’re going to get help," Nadeau said. 

The Mayor’s Office declined to provide a statement for this report. 

FOX 5 called and e-mailed OUC multiple times and we are still waiting for a response.