The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) has rebuffed claims that it is responsible for a poor 911 emergency response and has instead blamed the police for the unsatisfactory quality of service.
The phone company expressed “grave concern and disappointment” that Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has claimed that “the unresponsiveness of the 911 system is a technical error that GT&T is refusing to accept responsibility for”.
In an uncharacteristically strong and detailed statement, the phone company said the problem was at police stations. ”GT&T reiterates that the unresponsiveness of the 911 personnel has nothing to do with GT&T. Our checks have revealed that the following occur with great frequency (a) the disappearance of handsets from the termination points of 911 lines at various Police Stations (b) the removal of the handset off the hook (c) no answer by personnel during standard working hours,” said GT&T. The phone company added that it does weekly checks to ensure all lines are technically functional. GT&T records the answering GPF party once the line is answered during these routine tests. Priority is given to faults detected during tests or complaints reported when the line is answered.
According to the phone company, it stands ready to supply technical inputs forthe improvement of the service aimed at helping the Ministry correct and provide an efficient 911 police response since this would be in the National interest.
GT&T recommended an urgent investigation and review of all facts which would highlight all issues associated with 911 services and their reported deficiencies
The phone company said it was yet to receive a report from the Guyana government’s consultant with whom it had met twice for basically “data gathering sessions”. GT&T assured that it was ready to begin work on improving the 911 service depending on the findings and recommendations contained in the final report by the consultant. The recommendations would determine the implementation design and costs.
“For simplicity, it is not within our control who answers the 911 phone GT&T’s responsibility begins and ends with ensuring access by all subscribers to the assigned 911 fixed service lines and ensuring maintenance of this access as a priority,” said GT&T,
The land, mobile and Internet provider says it provides toll free 911 facilities that are housed at Police Stations and are manned solely by the Guyana Police Force and their operatives. Hence GT&T has no responsibility nor visibility as to manning levels and indeed whether or not there are GPF personnel tasked with twenty four hours, seven days (24 x 7) , 365 day manning of the 911 facilities across the country.
Voicing “great surprise” at Home Affairs Minister Rohee’s claim, GT&T believed that he was not properly briefed before making those public statements. GT&T values the excellent working relationship that GT&T has with the Ministry of “GT&T values the excellent working relationship that GT&T has with the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Guyana Police Force and would therefore wish for this important National Security matter to be addressed from a facts based perspective as opposed to apparent innuendo , misconceptions and false conclusions, which we presume have been erroneously supplied to the Honorable Minister, resulting in today’s public release which has potential for public anxiety,” added GT&T.
GT&T explains that, as a service provider which prides itself on its coordination and cooperation with all state entities in particular the nation’s first responders, it is compelled to document and release the following- that the 911 service is installed and operated like any other landline/fixed service provided by GT&T, the only difference being the use of three digits (911), instead of the standard seven digits.
Prior to 2006, all calls to the 911 number were answered at the Brickdam Police Station regardless of which area of the country the calls originated. At the request of the Guyana Police Force, GT&T officials met in 2005 with the GPF to review the 911 operation. A decision was taken at the aforementioned meeting that landline calls to 911 be answered at various police stations based on a detailed schedule submitted by the Guyana Police Force. This was done as requested since GPF officials at that time indicated that this dispersion factored in geography and would aid the GPF’s response times. However, all cell calls irrespective of where they are made from are answered at the Brickdam Police Station.
Currently, each district has one dedicated 911 line, with the exception of Georgetown and New Amsterdam where there are four dedicated lines each.