Companies ignore 911 responsibilities, worrying operators


Saturday, March 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Six of Oklahoma City's more than 20 telephone companies have no contracts for 911 service, causing officials to worry residents may not get help during emergencies.

Several of the metro's phone companies aren't complying with their obligations to support 911. And four companies that have contracts for the emergency service are behind on their payments, said Zack Taylor, director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

Taylor said people's lives are at risk.

``Everything that we do and have done with 911 since the beginning is to make it as perfect as human beings can get it,'' he said.

The association, which coordinates 911 efforts in the Oklahoma City area, said several companies are not collecting basic information from their customers and sharing it with 911.

Companies are supposed to collect names, addresses and other data that could help 911 dispatchers, medics and law officers during an emergency, Taylor said. The information is for the city's enhanced 911 service, which allows operators to access data about each 911 caller.

Customers still can call 911 if their phone company is behind on its service payments. But if 911 has incorrect information, there could be delays in service, officials said.

The information, including whether callers speak English or what medical problems they have, can speed up emergency services.

Dispatchers say having incorrect information is an increasing problem.

In August 1999, the association processed 27 trouble reports in which a dispatcher found no record of a caller.

In August 2000, there were 455 trouble reports. A majority of those were from new phone companies in the market, the association said.

Taylor said he doesn't want people to avoid competitors of Southwestern Bell, but suggests they ask questions about 911 compliance before choosing a telephone company.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission recently cited five companies for late payments for 911 services: Mo Beeps, CommSouth Companies, DPi-Teleconnect, Navigator Telecommunications and 1-800-Reconex.

If the companies don't pay up, they could lose their right to operate in Oklahoma.