3 INVESTIGATES: 911 dispatcher who took warning call prior to bridge collapse says 'I expected that'
Channel 3 is learning a 911 dispatcher went above and beyond his training protocol to report concrete falling from the I-75 bridge.
Ryan Davis answered the warning call three days before the I-75 bridge collapse.
Channel 3 uncovered the call that reveals a woman tried to warn TDOT that concrete was falling from the bridge.
Davis has been a Hamilton County 911 dispatcher for two years. He says he was just two hours into his shift, when he got that call.
Davis, who is also a volunteer county firefighter, says he relies on his training to get him through calls, but some days he uses his instinct. That's exactly what he did on March 29. That day, an East Ridge woman called TDOT to report what she described as concrete falling from the I-75 South bridge. After being disconnected, she turned to police and Ryan answered her call.
“There are big huge, long chunks of concrete that are falling out,” the 911 caller relayed. “I don't want it to hit somebody's car.”
“Yes, that could be an issue,” Ryan responds.
Davis says he remembers that call.
“I put it into our system as check for a hazard, which goes to the police dispatcher and then I called TDOT and also relayed the information to them,” he explained.
After Davis called TDOT’s Traffic Management Center to relay the call, he says he remembers thinking, “That could end up being a more serious issue than what it is.”
TDOT officials later told Channel 3, there were no signs of concrete. Engineers determined the 911 caller saw grout falling, which they say is normal.
Jeff Carney, the Director of 911 Operations, tells Channel 3 he did not know about the warning call Davis received until after the collapse. He says dispatchers almost never know how a call ends.
“He did a good job. It was a serious call,” Carney said. “The minimum that he could do is build the card and makes sure a responder went out; the police, fire or EMS; in this case police. Going beyond that is understanding that it's the interstate, it’s a TDOT jurisdiction, it's a TDOT issue. If there is something there and making sure that TDOT was aware of it as well.”
All emergency and non-emergency calls in Hamilton County are routed to the dispatch center on Amnicola Highway. The center receives 1,500 calls a day. Carney says 131 dispatchers are on staff who were all required to go through an 11-month training program. That training includes how to handle road hazard reports.