Tucson 911 dispatchers continue to claims system errors

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- They were told to keep quiet, but Monday a half-dozen public safety dispatchers broke their silence, to speak up about issues with the new 911 system, as well as an uncomfortable work environment.

"The voice in our headset leaves our headset," said dispatcher Roberta Vance during a press conference.

Monday a group of public safety dispatchers revealed a laundry list of problems with the new 911 system.

I heard some clicks in my ear, I heard his voice going in and out.

And then you've lost your mic so they can't hear you.

If it's dropped, then you have to wait for them to call back and that's an awful feeling.

Ward six council member Steve Kozachik decided to host the press conference, after hearing dispatchers were being harassed by coworkers and supervisors.

"We felt comfortable coming today once we started talking amongst each other and building our numbers," said Vance.

"Management has a responsibility.  When they bring this to the attention of management, to go to that coworker and say knock it off," said Kozachik.

Dispatchers are also firing back at claims they are the problem, and not the system.

One dispatcher accuses Qwest technicians of incorrectly documenting issues as operator errors.

"When I questioned them on it.  It wasn't our error it was just a dumping ground for things that they say had nothing to do with the system," said Vance.

The group says they're working three times as hard now, trying to get around glitches in a program that is not as efficient as the old system.

"We were able to, based on what the call load coming in was, stop what we were doing on one thing that wasn't critical and pick up the thing that was critical," said dispatcher Vicki Jonda.

Despite moments of confusion, even panic, dispatchers say they're doing their best.  However the system needs to be fixed.

A spokesman for the city's general services department would not comment on the situation.

Qwest says, with regards to documenting problems as operator errors, they have a section in their report to note if a dispatcher needs additional training and another section where they can mark issues pointed out by the dispatcher.