Suffolk's 911 emergency operators, dispatchers praised for work during Ida
Suffolk's 911 emergency operators and dispatchers were recognized Monday for their efforts when Long Island was deluged by remnants of Hurricane Ida and the workers aided not only thousands of county residents but many more from as far as Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
The county’s 911 system was flooded with roughly 5,000 emergency calls on Sept. 1, up from the typical weekday average of 3,300 to 3,600 calls, according to Suffolk County police.
"Not only did you have to address every issue here in Suffolk County but there was overflow," said Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees president Daniel Levler during an award ceremony in Bohemia. "And that overflow came out to Suffolk County from jurisdictions spreading from Queens to Manhattan. You had to handle that on top of what you were doing on an already stressful and difficult night."
Callers reported that relatives in New York City — who had difficulty reaching their 911 system as the storm deluged the region — were trapped in vehicles and in flooded basement apartments, said Tom Moran, vice president of AME, which represents Suffolk 911 workers.
Officials did not detail the number of calls that came from outside the county or from residents seeking help for others who live elsewhere.
"You're asked to do more and more because the calls never go down," Moran said. "They always go up."
John Manzi, AME's unit president for Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, said the phone rang nonstop the morning of Ida but his members stayed calm.
"Everyone was doing their job and doing it well," Manzi said. "Everyone was calm and professional."
On Sept. 11, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation, pushed by Suffolk labor unions, defining the first responder category to include 911 operators, EMS dispatchers and others working in similar jobs as defined by local government regulations.