Sedgwick County Commissioners have issued a formal statement in response to allegations by a firefighters union on communications issues involved in a fatal apartment fire in Wichita in October.
The International Association of Firefighters Local 135 said this week that firefighters were not told of someone trapped in a unit at the Brookhollow Apartments near Central and Rock Road, as they arrived on the scene on October 13th. They played audio from a 911 call made by 22-year-old Paoly Bedeski, who died in the fire. The union said Emergency Communications has had issues in recent months with providing the wrong address to first responders, and an excessive wait time for callers to talk to a dispatcher. The union is calling for a third-party review of the response to the apartment fire, and it’s urging Sedgwick County to address training and resources.
The County Commission issued a statement Thursday in response to the union:
Sedgwick County holds public safety as its highest priority. The tragic event that took place on Oct. 13 at Brookhollow Apartments is truly heartbreaking for our community, especially the loss of Ms. Paoly Bedeski, those injured and those directly affected by this event.
The Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has the highest confidence and supports our Emergency Communications system, staff and Director, Elora Forshee. We believe in the work performed by these public servants. They dedicate their lives to serving the people of Sedgwick County.
We value our partnerships with first responder agencies and the municipalities we work with and want to collaborate for the good of our community. Our focus and emphasis at this time is to hear from the 911 Advisory Board, which is made up of leadership from the first responder agencies that use our Emergency Communications system, and to understand their recommendations moving forward. It is our understanding they will meet in the next week to review this incident solely. Sedgwick County leadership supports an independent 3rd party comprehensive analysis that covers the initial call to 911 to the last fire personnel leaving the scene of this incident.
The Sedgwick County Commission will continue to work together with our professional first responder partners to learn from this tragedy and make improvements for the future. Our community deserves this.