The Hot Beat


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911 tapes released in Ed Thomas shooting

Dispatcher: “Butler County 911.”

Daryl Myers: “This is Daryl Myers. I work for the school. We, uh, had, a, I think a shooting right now in the bus barn down at the high school.”

Dispatcher: “Where at?”

Myers: “At Parkersburg.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, at the high school where?”

Myers: “Uh, in the bus barn.”

Dispatcher: “In the bus barn? Do you know who it was?”

Myers: “No I don’t, uh, kids just come running out and said somebody shot Ed Thomas.”

Dispatcher: “Ed Tho—! OK.”

Myers: “And they’re still in the building.”

Dispatcher: “They’re in the building?

Myers: “Yeah.”

Dispatcher: “All right. All right. We’ll get someone right there.”

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation on Friday released dramatic 911 tapes in which shocked but calm residents of Parkersburg report the fatal shooting of iconic high school football coach Ed Thomas. Mark Becker, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in Thomas’ death.

The tapes — three of five are intelligible — show concerns about a slow ambulance response and less-than-perfect communication between emergency responders.

The DCI withheld six 911 tapes, contending they contain information that’s part of the ongoing criminal investigation.

In one tape, Police Chief Chris Luhring told dispatchers he couldn’t reach an ambulance by radio.

“This is going to be a load and go. When they come in here and load that cot up, you’re out of here,” Police Chief Chris Luhring said.

The dispatcher told Luhring that a helicopter would be there in 15 minutes, and then the dispatchers spent a few seconds tracking down a cell phone number for someone in the ambulance.

In another call, Leah Vanderholt called 911 because several students had fled the weight room where Thomas was shot and were gathered at a house nearby.

“We can see the building right now, and all we see is a police blazer. We don’t see any ambulances, we don’t see anything,” Vanderholt told the dispatcher.

“The ambulance is on the way right now,” the dispatcher said. “They had a hard time getting a crew, but they are on the way. We also have paramedics that have been en route for about ten minutes.”

Vanderholt told the dispatcher the address of the home where she and the kids were waiting, and the dispatcher asked them not to leave until police arrived, and they had spoken with the officers.


Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , ,

New bill would have protected axed firefighter

The Iowa Legislature has passed a law that forbids employers from firing employees who are late to work because they are a volunteer emergency responder.

It’s House File 671. According to Section 100B.14:

“If an employee has provided the employee’s public or private employer with written notification that the employee is a volunteer emergency services provider, the employer shall not terminate the employment of a volunteer emergency services provider who, because the employee was fulfilling the employee’s duties as a volunteer emergency services provider, is absent from or late to work.”

This has no impact on Heath Omar’s dilemma, but it may prevent anyone else getting fired the way he was.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

E-911 buys mass notification system

This was on the front page of the Iowa Today section today, as a Corridor item. It’s kind of a big deal, to paraphrase Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.

The Linn County E-911 Executive Board — a bunch of public safety types from around our fair county — decided to pay $50,000 per year for a service that can call at least 60,000 people an hour in case of a major emergency, like a flood or a water boil order.

The service, called Code Red, can target geographic areas like the flood plain of the Cedar River or certain neighborhoods, so it doesn’t waste calls. I guess we’ll see about that. The 50 grand pays for 200,000 minutes per year. It doesn’t take too many emergencies to use that up. As the Code Red people put it, that’s 400,000 30-second calls. More than 200,000 people live in Linn County. I don’t know how many home telephones that equals.

Code Red was chosen over another company, because more government entities use Code Red than the other one, and because the company behind Code Red is so confident in itself that it takes all legal responsibility for mistakes (as in, “I didn’t get a call about the boil order, and I drank some water. I’m going to sue you!”)

The Code Red website is here

Filed under: County Government, , , , ,

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