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They Came Through Under Pressure

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 07:23

Public safety dispatchers were inundated with calls around the time of the accident on Route 114 in East Hampton on April 16, but handled the situation with aplomb, East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen said yesterday.

“It was incredible the amount of calls that came in during that short period of time,” said Chief Larsen, who is in charge of East Hampton Village Emergency Communications, which handles calls for the East Hampton Village and Sag Harbor Village Police Departments, five of the six fire departments that serve the Town of East Hampton, and two additional emergency medical service agencies. The town police has its own dispatchers.

In a 29-minute period, three dispatchers handled six separate incidents and fielded dozens of 911 calls, some for the same accidents. “What you have to remember is that you don’t just get one phone call reporting something. If it’s a car accident, you might get 30 calls,” he said.

During a three-minute period, the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association was dispatched to three different calls in its coverage area, and summoned volunteers for each of them — no small feat in the middle of a workday when many were away on vacation.

The following is a breakdown of the incidents:

11:36 a.m.: 911 calls reported an adult male with injuries from a fall from a roof on North Haven; Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps dispatched.

11:42 a.m.: 911 calls reporting a pedestrian struck in front of Mary’s Marvelous on Newtown Lane; East Hampton Village police and East Hampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Association dispatched.

11:43 a.m.: 911 calls reporting an adult male in seizures on Three Mile Harbor Road; East Hampton ambulance dispatched to a second call.

11:45 a.m.: A Sag Harbor ambulance unit en route to the Sag Harbor emergency call happened upon the accident on Route 114; East Hampton ambulance dispatched to a third call.

11:47 a.m.: 911 call for an elderly male with a prior head injury in Amagansett; Amagansett Fire Department ambulance dispatched.

11:53 a.m.: East Hampton Town police request assistance with the Route 114 accident; East Hampton Village police dispatched.

11:59 a.m.: E.M.S. on scene at the Route 114 accident request a second ambulance; Montauk Fire Department ambulance on Montauk Highway and Stephen Hand’s Path returning from a prior transport to Southampton Hospital routed to Route 114, as all of East Hampton’s ambulances were tied up.

12:05 p.m.: A call from a homeowner reporting activated carbon monoxide detectors at a residence in East Hampton; East Hampton Fire Department dispatched.

Chief Larsen said that due to the holiday week, the Village Emergency Communications Department was at minimum staffing of three with the public safety dispatchers P.J. Cantwell, Nicole Petykowski, and Gerard Turza Jr. manning the phone lines.

“Each 911 call that is received must be answered regardless of whatever else is going on,” Mr. Turza wrote in a memo to Chief Larsen documenting the breakdown. Dispatchers were tied up giving medical instructions for the E.M.S. calls and keeping track of the times ambulance personnel arrived on scene and went en route. “During this time period, no calls went unanswered and all requests from the field responders were accommodated,” he wrote.

If necessary, dispatchers can redirect calls to another dispatching agency.

“I was very happy with the way that they handled the overwhelming situation — and we’re only in April,” Chief Larsen said.

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