Chief of 911 Center Replaced

Operator in fatal call suspended several times


 
 

D.L. BennettMarcus K. Garner | | Wednesday, August 13, 2008


FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- The director of Fulton County's 911 center has been removed after an operator's mishandling of a call left a dying woman without help for more than 25 minutes.

Alfred "Rocky" Moore will still head the county's Emergency Management Agency, but a deputy will take over management of the emergency communications center that receives 911 calls.

The announcement came Tuesday as personnel files were released for Gina Conteh, the 911 operator who was fired last week after her mistakes handling the emergency call.

Conteh's personnel file more than 2,100 pages of documents spanning her 17-year career in the 911 center revealed numerous reprimands and suspensions.

Her infractions since 2002 include other mishandled calls, confrontations with co-workers and emergency responders, making lunch while calls were coming in, and sleeping on the job in one instance, she slept so deeply she tumbled out of her chair and onto the floor.

Between 2002 and 2007, Conteh was suspended at least seven times for disciplinary problems and given several written warnings for mistakes, according to her files.

Conteh's work record is a public document because she was a county employee. Her records were opened to media agencies including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Tuesday afternoon as a result of a Georgia Open Records request.

Conteh has not returned repeated messages left on her home phone since county officials announced last week that she was fired for her mishandling of the Aug. 2 call by Darlene Dukes. The 39-year-old mother of two boys died from a blood clot in her lungs before help arrived at her Johns Creek home.

"I'm just stunned at what I've been told today," said Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley, whose District 3 includes Johns Creek. Learning of the operator's disciplinary history, Riley said, "This is unacceptable."

The personnel moves announced Tuesday are part of what County Manager Zachary Williams says is a commitment to investigate what led to Dukes' death.

Williams announced Tuesday that Moore will be replaced at the emergency communications center by his second in command, Crystal Williams, no relation to Zachary Williams.

"Director Moore's duties will be limited to oversight of the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency until the conclusion of the external audit of Fulton County's 911 operations," the county manager said.

Moore, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, was appointed EMA director in July 2006. He has served as director of Fulton County's 911 operations since Oct. 1, 1997.

The 911 center has a $3.3 million budget.

Crystal Williams, a Fulton County employee since 1993, has been EMS deputy director since 2006.

The county plans to select a firm to review all aspects of department operations by Friday. Commissioners could consider it as early as Aug. 20.

"It is critical that we do this analysis," Riley said. "Because of the presentation of 2,100 pages of personnel files with overwhelming professional problems, [taxpayers'] next question is going to be, 'what about everybody else working there?'"

Zachary Williams said he hopes to have results within 60 days.


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Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Communications and Dispatch, Legal and Ethical, Operations and Protcols

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