A Los Angeles International Airport dispatcher couldn’t immediately send police to a shooting last year because the emergency phone system didn’t provide a location, says an investigation reported by Associated Press that also found broken panic buttons that are supposed to call for help quickly. A supervisor picked up the “red phone” seconds after shots were fired in the sprawling airport last Nov. 1, but she fled as the gunman approached with his high-powered rifle. Because no one was on the other end of the line to provide details and no location information was included with the call, the dispatcher was helpless.
One official likened the situation to a 911 call with police not knowing what address to go to. Airport dispatchers knew something was wrong but didn’t know where to send help because the system didn’t identify the locations of its emergency phones. An airline contractor working in the terminal called dispatch directly from his cellphone and provided the location. Officers were sent nearly 90 seconds after the shooting started. The review found broken panic buttons. Those devices are supposed to call for help and activate a camera giving airport police a view of the area reporting trouble. Two of the dozen buttons in the terminal weren’t working and several others around the airport were defective.