WATERVILLE — Another address mixup that occurred during a 911 call this week highlights the importance of taking new measures to minimize such mistakes, the city’s police chief said.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey, in describing the call, noted that the incident comes on the heels of the June 6 murder and suicide of Sarah and Nathaniel Gordon in Winslow, which also involved an address mixup.

It was about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the Central Maine Regional Communications Center in Augusta received a 911 call from a 53-year-old woman who reported chest pains and trouble breathing.

The medical emergency call was transferred to a dispatcher in Waterville, who was told by the Augusta dispatcher that the caller was on Pare Street.

When the Waterville dispatcher was connected, however, the caller calmly replied that, no, she’s not on Pare Street, but Paris Street. She spelled Paris out to the dispatcher.

Emergency responders were not delayed by the brief mix-up and took the woman from Paris Street to Inland Hospital. Pare and Paris streets are less than a third of a mile from each other.

The incident, for Massey, is yet another reminder of how mix-ups are more apt to happen as a result of the state’s 911 call center consolidation. Under the consolidation, all 911 calls made on cellphones in the Waterville area must first go to the Augusta dispatch center, which then transfers the call to dispatchers in Waterville.

“Putting that additional step in the emergency process presents opportunities to make mistakes,” Massey said.

The issue of mixups was most prominently highlighted by the murder and suicide in Winslow June 6 when local police were initially dispatched to the wrong address — apparently because the dispatcher in Augusta who first took the call heard Murray Lane when the shooting was on Marie Street.

Massey has warned that the consolidation has degraded emergency services, leading to a loss of available technology, institutional memory and local knowledge of the area to aid police responses.

Since the Winslow case, the Waterville dispatch center has adopted a new protocol for emergency calls: Street names must be spelled back by the caller.

Massey concedes that mistakes will happen and that they are rare, but he said public safety officials should try to minimize them as much as possible.

Massey said he contacted Augusta public safety officials this week about the mixup.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, confirmed that Massey had spoken with Public Safety Commissioner John Morris about the incident and the commissioner is looking into it.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]


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