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Boston Set To Receive Same Problem-Plagued 911 System as New York City

The same crash-prone 911 dispatch system that is being eyed in the death of a little girl in New York City is poised to go online in Boston this fall, prompting one Big Apple EMS union boss to warn the Hub to brace for problems now.

'Be very leery of what you ask for,' said Israel Miranda, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics, Fire Inspectors, Fire Department of New York Local 2507. 'Tell them to be very careful.'

Bill Oates, Boston's chief technology officer, who is overseeing the installation of the $15 million system here, said Alabama-based computer company Intergraph is coming to Boston next week to explain problems in New York.

Boston is also sending a team of police, fire, EMS and technology workers to the Big Apple to talk to their counterparts about what plagues the system.

'It's obviously a concern for us,' Oates said. 'We're going to dig in and find out exactly what happened and transfer all that learning to what we're doing for the balance of the project.'

Intergraph did not return calls for comment.

Miranda is appearing at New York City Council meetings Monday to urge an independent investigation of Intergraph's dispatch system, which has crashed four times and delayed several 911 calls - one that left paramedics stuck with a dead body for six hours and another that stranded a crash victim on the highway for 90 minutes with minor injuries - since it was switched on in late May.

'If these big bugs are not worked out, it's a threat to public safety,' Miranda told the Herald.

Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for the family of 4-year-old Ariel Russo, who was fatally struck by a car as she walked to school on the Upper West Side on June 4, filed a $40 million lawsuit against New York City after it took four minutes for dispatchers to receive a request for an ambulance - a glitch being blamed in part on the new 911 system.

'There's a serious problem with the system in New York City, and anyone who has the same system should have it evaluated,' Rubenstein said.

In San Jose, Calif., the city purchased an Intergraph dispatch system that went live in June 2004, and 'a total breakdown of the system occurred on several occasions during the first few days,' according to civil grand jury minutes.

Boston picked Intergraph in 2011 to add mapping and the ability for police, fire, and EMS to receive pictures and videos in their vehicles as they are responding to 911 calls, Oates said.

'We are able to get out of this deal anytime the city's interests deem necessary,' said Dot Joyce, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino's spokeswoman. 'However, we are confident in the work of our technology personnel.'



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