The main police dispatcher on March 15 says if the first 111 call was made a priority 1 event, she would likely have evacuated Linwood Mosque and sent the armed offenders’ squad (AOS) there more than 10 minutes before the terrorist got there.
And one of the 111 call takers who supervised that call broke down in the coroner’s inquest on Friday when remembering how that day played out.
Dara Taylor, who was the main dispatcher in the communications centre that day, was telling police on the ground where to go.
“This was the most chaotic event I’ve ever experienced in my sworn or unsworn career,” she told the court.
But she said it was organised, highly functional chaos.
“There were no idle hands, there was no one doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. Everyone was finding work and making the response happen.”
Calls started coming in quickly at 1:41pm, so Taylor started dispatching police.
“I responded saying, ‘We’ve now had seven calls, that states that a person is shooting a gun,'” she said. “‘It has all come from the Mosque which is on Deans Ave.'”
It’s now known the first 111 call from Parliament detailing the attack locations and the terrorist’s name was given a priority 2 status, not priority 1
One of the 111 call supervisors who oversaw that call from Parliament which detailed the attack, who has named suppression, broke down in the witness stand on Friday – requiring court to take a break when recalling how that day played out for her.
“I recall at some point looking up and over to the dispatcher and supervisors’ desk and realising something was going on, and that’s when I knew something was happening but didn’t realise this was related to the call I’d been listening to,” she said.
The lead dispatcher explained what she would have done if that job came up as a priority 1 on her screen, referring to Linwood Mosque.
“I would, again this is in hindsight, send someone there straight away to evacuate everyone in that mosque and then clear and have AOS there for if he showed up there,” Taylor said.
Taylor was praised in court on Friday for her work on that terrible day.
“I just want to begin by saying how well you did on the 15th [of] March 2019,” said Abigail Van Echten, counsel assisting the coroner.
“You had an exceptional ability to absorb all of the information that was coming in around you,” said Anne Toohey, counsel for the families.
And Taylor told the coroner the communication systems between police and ambulance to get to the injured had issues.
“I’d be lying if I said that it hadn’t been a problem before,” Taylor noted. “That would be my one takeaway for this is that ambulance get funding from the Government.
“All being on [the] same operating dispatch system would be the primary thing that would have increased communication that day.”