Tulsa's 911 Call Center Says It Followed Protocol Handling Weekend Shooting

Monday, April 4th 2016, 11:06 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa 911 Dispatch Center said it followed protocol while handling a shooting call this weekend, despite a caller claimed emergency crews didn’t respond with urgency.

Thousands of calls come through the 911 Dispatch Center, and the first thing callers hear is “police, fire, or dispatch.”

Sunday afternoon, the owners of a gas station at ZenZel Plaza called police after they said a belligerent man harassed people with a makeshift weapon.

"Where is this, the 911 when we need them? Where are they? This is an emergency, this is a true emergency," Elvia Gist said.

4/3/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Police: Store Owner Shoots Disruptive Customer At Gas Station

Terry O’Malley, the 911 Call Center director, said logs show Gist called 911 two times; but hung up as soon she was transferred to police.

"In this case, the owner of the ZenZel Plaza called us twice and hung up on us twice," O’Malley said.

She said it’s important that once your call is transferred and you are put in the queue, do not leave the line.

"We are transferring you to a queue where we have got a limited number of operators where people are handling other people’s police emergencies. If you hang up you slow everything down by multiple minutes, and seconds count," O’Malley said.

Logs show the operator called back to ZenZel Plaza only to hear an open line on the other end.

It was the call from the shooting victim’s girlfriend, who had stayed on the line and reported the shooting. O'Malley said that gave police officers the info they needed.

"We did up the priority to a one. Within six minutes an officer did arrive of us dispatching an officer," said O’Malley.

In the next few months, the 911 Call Center will transition away from what it calls the "Human switchboard."

Soon, 911 callers will go directly to a highly trained emergency dispatcher to report a problem.