911 – Emergency Response: System in Crisis

Go Lean Commentary

Emergency management, as defined in the book Go Lean…Caribbean, is an art and a science.

The Go Lean book embarks on the strategy to consolidate the Emergency Management (preparation and response) for the entire Caribbean region. Therefore the issue of Emergency Telephone Numbers is of serious concern; sometimes it’s a life-or-death matter.

Despite all the attendant issues – technology, standards, geography, legacy, and language – this is first-and-foremost an issue of life-and-death. Failure in this area is not an option. Consider here this example of short-comings in the US system:

VIDEO Title: Some 911 systems can’t find you in an emergency due to dated technology – http://www.today.com/video/today/57011057#57011057

Published on Feb 23, 2015 – Some 911 systems can’t find you in an emergency

Many 911 centers around the country still rely on dated cell tower technology instead of something as widely used as Google Maps, which means dispatchers may not be able to locate you in an emergency – and the consequences can be tragic. TODAY’s national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reports; (see transcript in the Appendix below).

CU Blog - 911 System Crisis - Photo 3There is no one world standard for Emergency Telephone Numbers. But the number is always intuitive; normally just a 3-digit code and applicable on a land-line or a mobile phone – this is an issue of technology. Normally neighboring countries share the same number, even if a dual overlap applies; so as to assuage any confusion for people when they absolutely have an emergency.

In the Caribbean region, like most places, everyone expects to pick up a phone and dial a 3-digit code – like 911 – and within short order be able to talk with an Emergency Management First-Responder for Police, Ambulance and Fire incidences.

Unfortunately for the Caribbean, we have 5 different legacies that rule the standards of day-to-day life:  American, British, Dutch, French and the Spanish Caribbean. But geographically, since the region is physically located among all these cultures; all territories must comply with a consistent structure; that consistency is identified as the North American Numbering Plan.

So 911 rules…

But for countries with active European oversight, they normally go further and allow their European Emergency Phone Number configurations to also apply while in the Caribbean member-states. So the 3-digit code in the European Union – 112 – will also work in the Dutch and French member-states.

This issue reflects the regional oversight the book Go Lean…Caribbean envisions for the Caribbean region. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This CU roadmap is designed to elevate Caribbean society by these prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines; growing the regional economy.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

All 3 of these features of the Go Lean roadmap relate to this topic of Emergency Telephone Numbers. There is the need for effectiveness and efficiency so as to protect the life and property of all Caribbean stakeholders: residents and visitors alike. The book posits that some issues are too big for any one member-state to manage alone – especially with such close proximities – there are times when there must be cross-border, multilateral coordination. This vision is defined early in the book (Pages 12 – 14) with these statements in the  opening Declaration of Interdependence:

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xviii. Whereas all citizens in the Federation member-states may not have the same physical abilities, reasonable accommodations must be made so that individuals with physical and mental disabilities can still access public and governmental services so as to foster a satisfactory pursuit of life’s liberties and opportunities for happiness.

xxiii. Whereas many countries in our region are dependent Overseas Territory of imperial powers, the systems of governance can be instituted on a regional and local basis, rather than requiring oversight or accountability from distant masters far removed from their subjects of administration. The Federation must facilitate success in autonomous rule by sharing tools, systems and teamwork within the geographical region.

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

Though the issue of “911” is primarily associated with the North American Numbering Plan; this discussion of emergency contacts is not just the focus for North America.

The following information is retrieved from Wikipedia regarding the universality of Emergency Telephone Numbers; (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_telephone_number):

CU Blog - 911 System Crisis - Photo 2In many countries the public telephone network has a single emergency telephone number (sometimes known as the universal emergency telephone number or the emergency services number) that allows a caller to contact local emergency services for assistance. The emergency number differs from country to country; it is typically a three-digit number so that it can be easily remembered and dialed quickly. Some countries have a different emergency number for each of the different emergency services; these often differ only by the last digit. In the European Union, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and others “112” was introduced as a common emergency call number during the 1990s, and as the GSM standard it is now a well known mobile telephone emergency number around the globe[1] alongside the North American “911“.

Mobile Telephones
Mobile phones can be used in countries with different emergency numbers. This means that a traveller visiting a foreign country does not have to know the local emergency numbers. The mobile phone and the SIM card have a preprogrammed list of emergency numbers. When the user tries to set up a call using an emergency number known by a GSM or 3G phone, the special emergency call setup takes place. The actual number is not even transmitted into the network, but the network redirects the emergency call to the local emergency desk. Most GSM mobile phones can dial emergency numbers even when the phone keyboard is locked, the phone is without a SIM card, emergency number is entered instead of the PIN or there isn’t a network signal (busy network).

Most GSM mobile phones have 112, 999 and 911 as pre-programmed emergency numbers that are always available.[15] The SIM card issued by the operator can contain additional country-specific emergency numbers that can be used even when roaming abroad. The GSM network can also update the list of well-known emergency numbers when the phone registers to it.

Some notable exceptions in the Caribbean neighborhood include:










919 or 911








Trinidad and Tobago









Considering the experiences from the foregoing VIDEO, the US needs better coordination with their Communications Regulator and Emergency Management Agencies. While it is out-of-scope for the Go Lean roadmap to change America, we can do better in the Caribbean. The CU is formed from a pledge for efficient, agile regional coordination. The Go Lean book describes this oversight as “lean”. The concept of “lean” is very prominent in the Go Lean book (and movement), even adopting the title, Go Lean, for this quest for excellence in Caribbean economic empowerment, security coordination and governing efforts. The label “lean” is therefore indicative of this quest; the word is used in the book as a noun, a verb and an adjective. This point is pronounced early in the book (Page 4) with these statements:

The CU will lean on, lean in, lean over backwards, and then lean towards…
The CU will embrace lean, agile, efficient organization structures – more virtual, less physical, more systems, less payroll.

This commitment to “lean” lends confidence to the coordination of the CU federal authorities. The Go Lean book hypothesizes that the Caribbean region can succeed in transforming our society in short order; the roadmap is a 5 year plan. Previous blogs/commentaries also exclaimed societal benefits from pursuits in regional coordination; consider this sample of previous blogs:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3881 Regional Coordination: Cyber Security Cooperation
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3834 State of the Caribbean Union’s Regional Society
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3760 Regional Proxy for Citizenship Programs
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3713 NEXUS – Model of Regional Border Control
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3594 Lessons for Regional Coordination for Queen Conch
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3582 Better Coordination for Regional Banks
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3432 Mitigating Regional Preponderance to Beg for Development Aid
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3354 Regional Call to End the US Embargo on Cuba
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=3090 Model of Regionalism: Europe – All Grown Up
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2887 Caribbean Region Must Work Together to Address Rum Subsidies
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2614 The ‘Great ShakeOut’ Earthquake Drill for the Region’s Seismic Areas
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2435 Role Model for Caribbean Economy: Korea
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2359 Regional calls for innovative ideas to finance Small Island Development
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2171 SEC Network – Role Model for Regional Sports Broadcast Networks
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1965 America’s Navy – 100 Percent – Model for Caribbean Regional Security
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1554 Status of Forces Agreement for a Regional Security Pact
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=833 One currency, divergent economies – Model for the Caribbean
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=479 PetroCaribe press ahead with plan to eradicate hunger & poverty in the region
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=318 Collegiate Sports Eco-System for the Caribbean Region
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=308 CARCIP – Regional Effort Can Foster Technology Innovations

The Go Lean book posits that communication technologies must be regulated at the regional level for the Greater Good of the Caribbean. There are too many instances with overlapping spectrum from one member-state to another. Citizens should not need to worry about border considerations during emergency incidences. There should be a smartphone mobile app for the Caribbean region from Step One/Day One of the CU implementation. In the present tense, this regional coordination is managed by bilateral treaties. A unitary confederation treaty – for all 30 member-states – would be better.

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster better regional coordination within the Caribbean neighborhood. This list provides a sample, as follows:

Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Security Principle – Privacy versus Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principle – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Bridge the Digital Divide Page 31
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Provide Emergency Management Arts and Sciences for Disasters Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Embrace the Advances of Technology Page 46
Strategy – Agents of Change – Technology Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Climate Change Page 57
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Homeland Security – Emergency Management Page 76
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Communications and Media Authority Page 79
Implementation – Assemble Regional Organs Under Umbrella Confederation Page 96
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up – Intelligence Collaboration Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Foster International Aid – Natural Disaster Relief Page 115
Planning – Big Ideas – Homeland Security Pact Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve for Natural Disasters Page 184
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications Page 186
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management – Trauma Medicine Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street – Mobile Apps: Time and Place Page 201
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Urban Living – Proximity to First Responders Page 234
Appendix – Interstate Compacts – Model: Great Lakes Compact Page 278
Appendix – Emergency Management – Service Continuity Management Page 338
Appendix – Emergency Management – Trauma Medicine Principles Page 339

The foregoing VIDEO and news article identifies the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the regulator for US land-line and mobile telephone systems. Who assumes this role for the Caribbean? While the same FCC has jurisdiction over 2 Caribbean member-states (Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands), there is the need for a deputized agency for the other 28 Caribbean member-states. The Go Lean roadmap calls for an Interstate Compact among the US Territories that is also ratified as an international treaty for all the other member-states. This constitutes the Caribbean Union treaty. Also, as many Interstate Compacts create independent agencies to administer the tenants of the multi-party agreements – think the New York/New Jersey Port Authority – the CU treaty will be administered by the region-wide, deputized technocracy, that is the Trade Federation, specifically the Commerce Department’s Communications and Media Authority.

The CU – with an agency within the Homeland Security Department – also doubles as the regional Emergency Management Agency.

This allows for better coordination of Emergency Telephone Numbers – 911, 919, 112, etc. – for the region. The Communications regulator and Emergency Management under the same “umbrella”: a better pairing!

The region needs this delivery; it makes the Caribbean a better place for emergencies. Now is the time to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap; now is the time to deliver the Caribbean as a better place to live, work and play… for today and for the future. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix: 911 System Crisis – VIDEO Transcript
Jeff Rossen and Charlie McLravy TODAY – February 23, 2015

It was shortly after 4 a.m. on the foggy morning of December 29 when Shanell Anderson took a wrong turn in the dark in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood.

The 31-year-old supervisor for a newspaper delivery service was substituting for an employee who had called in sick when she accidentally drove her SUV into a large pond. Her Nissan Xterra began filling with water, its doors held shut by hundreds of pounds of water pressure.

Anderson had nothing to break the windows with, but she did have a cellphone. She dialed 911.

“911, what is the address of your emergency?” the dispatcher answered. “Where’s your emergency?”

“I’m in a car in a lake,” Anderson replied.

“Where?” said the dispatcher. “Where are you?”

“The Fairway!” Anderson answered.

“Give me the address again, make sure I have it right.”

“The Fairway and Batesville.”

“Batesville and what?” the dispatcher asked.

“The Fairway is a street, ma’am.”

“The Fairway?” the dispatcher repeated. “I don’t have that.”

“Ma’am, I’m losing air very quickly,” Anderson said.

“Give me the address one more time, it’s not working,” the dispatcher asked.

“The Fairway!” Anderson yelled, and spelled the name. “F-A-I-R-W-A-Y!”

The 911 recording captured the dispatcher saying “I lost her” before the line went dead.

It took first responders nearly 20 minutes to get to the location and almost another nine minutes to find Anderson’s car 8 feet underwater. By the time they dove into the lake, broke into the completely submerged SUV and removed her from it, she was unresponsive.

Paramedics were able to restart Anderson’s heart. She was taken to the hospital, where she clung to life in a coma for a week and a half before her organs failed and she died.

CU Blog - 911 System Crisis - Photo 1The reason it took responders so long to find Anderson is because she was sinking into a pond in the next county. Her desperate call to 911 was picked up by a cell tower in Fulton County, but the pond she was trapped in was actually in Cherokee County. The 911 dispatcher who took her call couldn’t find Anderson’s location because the map on her system only showed Fulton County, where she worked — not nearby Cherokee County, where Anderson was.

The 911 center Anderson’s call was routed to is one of many around the country that still rely on dated cell tower technology instead of something as widely used as Google Maps. Wireless 911 calls get routed to the wrong call centers so often that many dispatchers have dedicated buttons to transfer callers to neighboring departments.

Brendan Keefe, chief investigative reporter for NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA, was the first to report on the problem with the 911 system there. His report prompted NBC News and Gannett-owned news outlets across the country to launch their own investigations into the issue.

“It has one fatal flaw; it stops at the city line,” Keefe said of Atlanta’s 911 system. “If you hit a cell tower outside their jurisdiction, they don’t know where you are.”

“If the phone had automatically routed to the correct jurisdiction, this very well may have had a different outcome,” Carl Hall, chief of technology at the Public Safety Department in Alpharetta, Georgia (in Fulton County), told Keefe in an recent interview. Hall oversees one of the most advanced 911 centers in the nation, accredited in the top 2 percent and equipped with the latest gear.

“The address of that tower determines which 911 center that call goes to,” Hall told Keefe. “It’s not based on the location of the telephone; it’s the physical address of the tower, not the physical address of the phone.”

Adding to the delay, Fulton County’s 911 follows the industry standard of using proprietary maps instead of technology like Google Maps, which most of us have installed on our cellphones.

“That’s the whole point of 911— finding you quickly,” said Anderson’s mother, Jacquene Curlee. “But when it matters, when someone’s life is in danger, they can’t find you. That is absolutely absurd.”

To demonstrate the problem, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen visited a 911 center in Fairfax, Virginia, with Steve Souder, director of the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications. Rossen dialed 911 from inside the center and asked the responding dispatcher to identify his location.

Consulting a computer, the dispatcher replied: “Showing 4610 West Ox Road.”

“Absolutely not,” Souder said. “That’s about a quarter of a mile from where we are.”

“And we’re inside a 911 center,” Rossen said. “And they still can’t find us.”

Responsibility for fixing the problem falls to the Federal Communications Commission. “We need to concentrate on the technologies that make cellphone information and location available to 911 centers instantly,” said Jamie Barnett, a former FCC official who now represents a coalition of emergency responders and 911 dispatchers who are pushing the commission and Congress to improve 911 systems. “The technology exists that can provide it within seconds.”

“It is unacceptable that I can make a wireless call and people can’t find me,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler acknowledged to Rossen. “Local government controls what happens with 911; the wireless carriers have the technology, and we have the oversight, with jurisdiction over the carriers, but not over local government.

“And so our job is: How do we keep pushing?” Wheeler continued. “And what we’ve recently done is to come up with a new set of rules that have pushed further.”

The new rules “demand 40 percent accuracy within the next two years,” Rossen pointed out. “How bad is it right now, if in two years the goal is 40 percent accuracy? Which I think we can agree is not a great number.”

“We have to push to make sure that both the wireless carriers and the local 911 folks are prepared to be able to exceed that and to give the kind of expectation that you and I have a right to have when we call 911,” Wheeler replied.

Wheeler also revealed that the FCC is developing a 911 app — like Uber for 911. He said that there is no timetable yet for when the app will be ready.

But that is not good enough or fast enough for Shanell Anderson’s mother.

“Her death was so senseless,” Jacquene Curlee said. “Our 911 system doesn’t work.”

Source: NBC News – The Today Show – Retrieved February 23, 2015 from:


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