Great article from the Atlanta newspaper this morning on an erroneous dispatch from 911 that lead to a death:

It took the death of Darlene Dukes for a 911 operator to finally lose her job in Fulton County.

Gina Conteh survived nearly 12 years handling emergency calls despite a personnel record that includes fights with co-workers, chronic tardiness, insubordination, repeated sleeping on the job and numerous mistakes routing emergency calls.”

She was fired last week after a mistake that delayed an ambulance for nearly an hour to a Johns Creek woman who died.

Dukes died on Aug. 2 from a blood clot in her lung. Conteh first sent help to southwest Atlanta rather than north Fulton. It took 25 minutes before another dispatcher realized the were looking in the wrong place.

It took another 20 minutes before Fulton officials realized they had dispatched fire and police but not ambulance, which then did not arrive until about 2 p.m.

Fulton’s inability to get rid of Conteh before the death of Darlene Dukes underscores a frequent criticism for a county often called inept, inefficient and filled with sloppy employees who don’t care and can’t be fired no matter what their transgressions.

Rob Simms, the chief of staff to former Commission Chairman Mike Kenn, said poor employees routinely got in the way of doing business and getting rid of them was “impossible.”

He pointed to Sheriff Myron Freeman’s inability to fire several deputies who were cited for errors that allowed a prisoner on trial to escape, bludgeon a deputy and then kill a judge, a court reporter, a deputy and a federal agent. Brian Nichols will go to trial for murder on Sept. 22

Six were later reinstated.

… Tom Andrews, who retired as county manager last year, said civil service protections that require documented progressive discipline and allows for a series of appeals are too protective of bad employees.

“We have fired people,” Andrews said. “It’s a long and tortuous process. Does it affect overall management? Certainly it does.”

State lawmakers must do something about this. People shouldn’t look at a government employment as a “job for life.” Unfortunately, it pretty much is.