Updated – New World Software, Not Dispatch Training Blamed For June 4th Failed Alarm Upgrade

June 14, 2016

Everett, Everett Fire

Editor’s Update 3:30 PM: I just got off the phone with Kurt Mills, Executive Director at SNOPAC911 in Everett. He was at a conference but wanted to call to express his concern with my characterization of the failure of dispatchers to be able tone a second or third alarm during the June 4th fire on Marine View Drive as a training issue. “This was a New World System bug,” said Mills. “This was not dispatch error or a training issue.” Mills told me he remembers explaining the problem of March 28th as a dispatcher training issue as noted in the Everett Fire log shown below. He said while there did appear to be a work around to the June 4th event as outlined in the 3-page memo also shown below, the fact remains it was a New World issue and not the fault of the dispatchers or their training. He said the problem was sent with the highest priority to New World and four days later they received a software fix that he believes has solved the problem. Mills said the memo, which he did not expect the press to see, could have been worded to better reflect the New World failure and not emphasize the wording of “the dispatchers became singularly focused” “and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot” I advised Director Mills that it is my intent to properly report the issues when it comes to the implementation of the New World software and his clarification was appreciated. – Leland Dart, Publisher. My original story from earlier follows…

alarm upgradeAlarm upgrade, when a fire commander asks for additional help, has become something of an issue for Everett Fire and SNOPAC as they work in a new dispatch software known as New World. This is another in a series of articles we’re doing as we follow the trials and tribulations of implementing this system.

Back on March 28th of this year the Everett Fire Department was called to a commercial fire response at Summit and Everett Avenue. The Battalion Chief asked to upgrade to a second alarm. The Dispatcher told the Chief she was waiting for New World to catch up. A couple of moments later the Chief asked to downgrade the call and the Dispatcher said “That’s good because New World is stuck where you’re at.” Shortly after that she advised a supervisor was able to issue a second alarm. Here’s an audio clip of that exchange.

As part of an error log kept by Everett Fire for tracking dispatch issues this call was addressed as follows…

Alarm

Click above to enlarge

MyEverettNews.com spoke with SNOPAC Director Kurt Mills on May 17th regarding issues with the New World dispatch system. At that time Mills said the 2nd alarm issue had been addressed and was a training issue. He advised more upgrades and patches were coming and improvements were happening. He also said the system was 95% of the way there but wouldn’t be satisfied until it was 100%.

On June 4th there was a fire at a former recycling center on Marine View Drive. As Everett Fire units made their initial response, mutual aid units from Marysville were cancelled. After about 7 minutes a second alarm was asked for by the Battalion Chief. According to a memo issued after the fact by SNOPAC the second alarm was not processed as three fire dispatchers and a dispatch supervisor tried in vain to get their computer system to dispatch additional units. Additional units were dispatched manually. 22 minutes later the Battalion Chief called for a third alarm. He was initially told that New World software was not allowing the alarm upgrade. He asked for a work around. Shortly thereafter he was told New World was back up and the additional units had been dispatched.

In the days that followed managers at SNOPAC worked to re-create the issue to find a fix. In a three page memo provided by the City of Everett to MyEverettNews.com Operations Supervisor Karl Christian and Operations Coordinator Rich McQuade outlined what they went through to find out why the computer system would not allow the dispatcher to enter an alarm upgrade. You can see that full 3 – page memo here…

Everett Fire CFS 618 – 060416

The summation was the three dispatchers and one supervisor became singularly focused on the issue with the upgrade button, and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot anything other than retrying the recommendation several times. Again this comes more than 2 months after an alarm upgrade failure was called a dispatcher training issue.

On June 9th MyEverettNews.com sent an E-mail to SNOPAC Executive Director Kurt Mills asking if the upgrade from May 25th made a difference? Director Mills responded in a return E-mail…

Yes the hotfix corrected some twenty things, and two other subsequent fixes have been provided so absolutely we continue to make material progress.  As you have identified sometimes issues are attributed to NWS when they aren’t really related to NWS – and in fairness some have been issues even before NWS went live.  I’m told Everett has new public safety grade wireless modem they are testing which is showing marketed improvement in coverage/throughput and I’m pleased they are testing so thoroughly – it takes time but we need to spend out limited funds wisely.  We’re also moving toward allowing public safety to have priority access to the commercial wireless which it sounds like will be coming to our county later this year or early next. It’s a process Leland which is getting better and better.  We can do things today we’ve never been able to do before, so it’s worth it to the public, responders and 911 operators to keep moving forward.

Mills did not mention the 3 page E-Mail on June 7th regarding the failure of the system to properly upgrade the alarms as requested by Everett Fire on June 4th.

MyEverettNews.com will continue to follow the issues of dispatching Everett Fire and Everett Police to emergencies within the Everett city limits.


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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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8 Responses to “Updated – New World Software, Not Dispatch Training Blamed For June 4th Failed Alarm Upgrade”

  1. Dwight Palmer Says:

    Here here!

    Mr Mills- please read the post above again!

  2. Anon Says:

    Mr. Mills,

    Are you kidding?! Who do you think you are fooling?

    According to Snopac’s website, “SNOPAC’s Core Values of Integrity, Respect, Professionalism and Teamwork are the standards we follow each and every day.”

    Let’s break this down.

    In the memo drafted by Snopac’s Operations Specialist, Karl Christian, he states, “It is my observation from the events that occurred, the dispatchers became singularly focused on the issue with the Upgrade button, and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot anything other than retrying the recommendation again several times.” He goes on to state, “immediate additional training for the dispatchers” was going to be delivered, supporting his initial blame on the dispatcher. How can this statement be misinterpreted? The statement was written with purpose and intent to solely place blame on the shoulders of the employees who were working this fire on June 4, and to detract from the software failure of New World.

    In your backpedaling statement to Mr. Dart, that you interrupted your conference for, you state, “This was a New World System bug … This was not a dispatch error or a training issue.” If this is the case, then why was there “training” issued by your Office of Training and Professional Standards on Thursday that makes an example of the employees involved in this call? Have you seen it? I’m guessing not. It accuses them of not mentally processing or actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion for the problem. In other words, they did not use their “critical thinking” skills. Really? Have you ever been present on the dispatch floor when there is an active fire such as the one on June 4th? It is anything but dispatchers not being actively engaged. How does making your employees an example, especially when the problem was not their fault, support your Core Values?

    You go on to further say that you did not expect the press to see the memo. I’ll go out on a limb and guess you weren’t planning on your dispatchers reading the memo that throws them under the bus either. Sir, you are a public servant. You are a fool if you don’t think that any document that is subject to the Public Information Act does not have the potential to make it to the media. But that brings up another question, what would you have changed in the statement? Were the statements intended to mislead the Everett Fire Department? It should have only contained honest and accurate facts. Why would you sacrifice your people in an effort to save face for a software company who has not delivered an acceptable product? In your words, “the expectation of the public to receive effective and efficient emergency services is higher than ever”. How are you achieving this expectation if you are producing documents with misleading information and throwing your people under the bus? Does continuing to support a software system full of bugs meet this expectation?

    As Mr. Christian investigated issues with this fire, were any other factors taken into consideration as he formed his observations that the dispatchers “did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot the problem”? Mr. Christian had the benefit to work on the problem in his cozy little office, on a sleepy Sunday morning, with no interruptions, no radio traffic, and no incoming 9-1-1 calls that the dispatchers are now required to take during active radio events, and no other demands that diverted his attention that the dispatchers would be juggling during events like this in order to troubleshoot the problem. The employees had seconds to minutes to troubleshoot the problem in a demanding environment. Mr. Christian had two days in his cozy little office to figure out the problem. Bully for him! Does this mean that dispatchers are now required to work out of classification and troubleshoot software and IT issues?

    You paid Dr. Kimberly Miller, an organizational psychologist, a lot of money to deliver training that focused on closing the relationship “gap” between your dispatch floor and management. In one sentence delivered by management, any work that was accomplished from her training has been completely blown out of the water. I’m curious, when the decision was made to the throw your dispatchers under the bus, what Core Value(s) were you striving to meet? Was it Integrity? Respect? Professionalism? Or was it Teamwork?

    Sir, the ship has hit the iceberg and is now sinking. As you, the Captain of the ship, and your Leadership Team abandon ship, you have left your employees to drown. As any Coast Guard member, or former member knows, a Captain who has abandoned their ship before everyone is off has committed a grievous act. You should know better! You and your Leadership Team have failed your employees during a time when they need you the most. What actions, not words, are you going to take to rebuild the trust between you and your employees that has been violated?

    To you and to the all the leaders of the fire, police, and 9-1-1 centers in Snohomish County, it is time to put aside your political reasons and concerns and take a stand. You are the ones who have the power to decide that this emergency service software is unacceptable. The decision does not solely lie on the shoulders of the dispatch organization; it is a decision that every single organization involved with New World is responsible for making. This system has cost the organizations and the Snohomish County community a lot of money and manpower, and it continues to be a money drainer. By luck, nobody was injured or killed in this 3-alarm fire. We are only one call away before the failures of this software system causes a problem so severe that it results in the injury and or death of a first responder or citizen of Snohomish County. At what point is it OK that a life is expendable in order to save face and support this albatross of a system? And if that is the case, which firefighter, police officer, or citizen’s life is expendable? What dispatcher will you sacrifice in order to find a place to lay your blame for the injury or death of someone? I think we all deserve an answer to this question.

    Now, back to those Core Values…

  3. Bourne Says:

    The pain of poor election choices are coming home to roost in SnoCo.

  4. NewUser Says:

    Kurt,

    How many work arounds does New World have? As a user I know the amount to be excessive. Lastly, blaming the dispatcher or end user has become common place in this debacle we call New World. Maybe the problem is the system and those who continue to blindly support it.

    • Anon Says:

      I feel so very bad for you, and everyone else who has to use this garbage. Thank you for everything you do!

  5. Nigel Says:

    Who cares.is This is old news. Get back to me when someone is held ACCOUNTABLE!!!

  6. Bourne Says:

    I’m so glad we have Top Men in charge at the local, county, and state levels in Washington. Whatever would we do without them?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fireground commander calls for 2nd & 3rd alarms but dispatchers couldn't send help - Statter911 - June 14, 2016

    […] The website MyEverettNews.com has also been looking at the dispatch problems and has details and audio of another failure to launch a second alarm on March 28. MyEverettNews.com also pointed out what some might see as interesting foreshadowing of the problems to come in its May 12 article: […]