A flood of ghost calls have been forcing hundreds of 911 calls to be placed on hold. This may have caused the emergency response to slow down which resulted in two deaths. Dallas officials are working with T-Mobile engineers to determine the reasons.
Two Tragic deaths:
On Wednesday, Mayor Mike Rawlings was confronted at a news conference by Dallas resident David Taffet who said that it took 20 minutes to get through to 911 after his husband stopped breathing last week. Taffet was disconnected and was placed on hold when he called back. After he finally got through, Paramedics arrived quickly, but his husband later died at a hospital.
A 6-month-old child died during the weekend after falling from a bed, his baby sitter called 911 three times but kept being placed on hold. Rawlings said he apologized to the baby’s mother
Phantom calls are coming into 911 from T-Mobile phones, according to officials, which leads to long wait times and delays in emergency response.
At one point last week the city had 360 calls on hold, said City Manager T.C. Broadnax. The problem, which should have been resolved in January, after officials no longer saw a spike in the phantom calls
This week, to ensure that calls are being answered, the city is increasing staffing levels at its 911 center and authorizing overtime shifts.
According to Rawlings, this issue signifies that the city isn’t performing one of its main functions, which is ensuring people’s safety.
T-Mobile’s chief technology officer, Neville Ray, said that his company hasn’t seen a similar problem anywhere else in the country. He said: “Clearly we are seeing a set of circumstances in Dallas which are unique.”
How T-Mobile cellular technology and the city’s 911 infrastructure interact with each other will be examined by engineers. One of the possibilities is that the problem could be on the city 911 system’s end, according to Rawlings
T-Mobile has announced that its team will stay in Dallas until the issue is fixed.
The Commission on State Emergency Communications has released a report in 2014 noting that 911 service will erode as new digital technology is introduced because existing 911 systems in Texas and other states are “based on wireline technologies established decades ago.”
Dallas-based AT&T experienced its own 911 problems at the same time of the occurance of the phantom calls. For a time on March 8, AT&T cellphone customers in Texas and other states were unable to call 911. The cause of the disruption has not yet been explained by the company.